The Candid Eye

December 24, 2009

Can Indian leadership handle China??

This is an excerpt from the article by Tarun Vijay.

The famous hotel Dusit Thani Hua Hin overlooking the gulf of Thailand, where the leaders of India and China met, proudly proclaims, “We use gifts of the heavens to create heaven on earth.” It is one of Thailand’s most scintillating hubs, known for its calm and serene surroundings. I don’t know if the leaders noticed it, but they surely were there to create a better atmosphere between the two nuclear-powered nations which fought a bitter war forty-seven years ago and have been under the shadow of a cold war once again.

Manmohan Singh & Wen Jiabao

Manmohan Singh & Wen Jiabao

The meeting between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Wen Jiabao must help calm the harshness in both the capitals. Prudence and pragmatism prevailed and the outcome was placidly correct. Just correct. Neither yielded the position he has stuck to and neither raised the decibel levels. You couldn’t have expected a tit-for-tat show there and while being conscious of the present situation, if both sides can reconcile themselves to building bridges while sorting out difference, neither loses.

Of late, the Chinese have been pricking Indian sensitivities at an extraordinarily fast pace. So much so that even the electioneering scenes in India were overpowered by the news regarding Chinese incursions, Indian rebuffs, major cover stories in media and the Arunachal CM meeting the Prime Minister.

Interestingly, in such a charged background our cool and gentle Manmohan Singh met Wen Jiabao and felt “excited” as the news reports say. I am sure this must be a reporter’s overenthusiasm, as he might have wanted to convey the thrill of the meeting. The reports said, “Manmohan Singh told Wen: ‘I am excited to see you.’ He said the Chinese people have had a number of achievements “and we share their sense of accomplishment”. He said this in the context of the 60th anniversary of the founding of modern China.”

The Chinese premier was more candid. He said, “We want to have a healthy and steady relationship with India. I hope we can use this opportunity to exchange our views on all related issues.”

As any student of Chinese affairs can tell, understanding diplomacy in Mandarin is a tricky job. Each word and the length of the sentence and similes used to convey the message have to be studied carefully. The official “leaks” do not tell us whether the Indian side conveyed any displeasure or annoyance to the Chinese premier on their cold-war like interventions and the Chinese side, it appears, was calmly “just diplomatically right”. It means they think what they have been doing so far is right and demands no explanation or relook.This must worry us.

The raking up of the border issue so forcefully, in spite of an agreement that the issue will be resolved amicably and through dialogue, has surprised many. While the pro-China lobby in Delhi blamed the American influence for creating an atmosphere that would make the Indian people ask for a reprisal, the factual position about Chinese arrogance spoke a different story. The situation on the Chinese side has to be understood before any final “assault”. The Chinese have grown rich, assertive and xenophobic in their global dreams. And this must make them more interventionist in near future.

It began with the Chinese incursions – observers say there had been more than 218 incursions by the Chinese security personnel since January this year. And the number of such incursions was higher in the Ladakh sector, where they have been successful to also make India dismantle a bridge on the Indus. The experts from Ladakh have been complaining that the Chinese have been intruding the Indian territory, they are not taking our land by inches but by yards. These experts also tells us the points and the nullahs where the Chinese came and then established their dominance. Yet nobody from the South Block took it seriously. Even the Army chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, and our foreign minister, S M Krishna, gave contradictory statements about incursions. Still the Chinese belligerence didn’t stop. China objected to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s Arunachal visit, it began construction work in the Kashmir region which is under illegal occupation of Pakistan, in spite of having conceded by the Indian government that Tibet is a part of China (which the nationalist school of thought will never accept), China keeps showing Kashmir as an independent country and Sikkim has yet to be shown as an Indian state. It also began giving visas to Kashmiris separately and hasn’t quite understood about the terrorist problem India is facing though it would like us to understand its jihadi headache in Xinjiang.

China opposed India’s agreement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), it tried to block Asian Development Bank’s $60 million loan for a power generation project in Arunachal, and more recently it tried its hardest to coerce Southeast Asian nations against inviting India as a member of the East Asia summit. It has not only accepted a “gift” of land from Pakistan, which in fact is claimed by India, but has been strengthening Pakistan militarily by providing nuclear knowhow, among other things. On the maritime front, China is steadfastly modernizing its bases in the Indian Ocean with its port development projects going in full swing in Pakistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

India expressed its concern over China’s new underground nuclear submarine base off the southern tropical island of Hainan. The then Naval chief, Sureesh Mehta, had publicly stated that the base poses a threat to Indian security. On the Arunachal border China has been shifting border pillars and making a dam on the Brahmaputra that would be a potential threat to the Indian people. On the Sikkim border a new highway and permanent army structures have come up. In times of any hostility, the Chinese would be able to cut the Siliguri corridor swiftly. On the other side, a joint command of Lanzhou Military Region opposite Ladakh, Himachal and Uttarakhand has come up. Tibet has become the most powerful Chinese base against India and reports say that China is in a position to send 20,000 troops anywhere on the Indian border from its Tibetan bases within two hours.

By contrast, Indian politicians have no idea what should be their Chinese policy and are busy in petty domestic rumblings or totally uninformed cacophonies. Once Arunachal used to have 12c functional air strips, now it has only two and more accurately just one, to cite an example of our preparedness. It’s only after the media taking up the Chinese threat that India responded by positioning its Sukhoi war planes replacing MIGs on the northeastern front and deciding to revive its four IAF bases on the Arunachal border (Vijaya Nagar, Mechuka, Tuting and Passighat), yet the confidence level hasn’t risen high on our side.

But it would be wrong to conclude that China would engage India in any military assault soon. It would also be imprudent and pathetically unintelligent to put China in the Pakistan category. It has to be a different story – we are not “1962” and China is not Maoist either. Keeping a watch on the factual positions, building our own defence and economy, we must continue to engae China in bilateral relations.

Read the full article here.

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November 5, 2009

Reaching Out Spiritually

Source: Kolkata mirror

A man dressed in a beatific smile, with a hand constantly reaching out to bless the ones streaming in can most prospectively be a saint’s. One such saint, Swami Sri Madhusudan, has been walking Kolkata’s streets, doing exactly this, under the Art of Living (AOL) Padayatra program Anugrahotsav (the divine present).

 

Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar welcomed by the people

Swamy Sri Madhusudan welcomed by the people - Image Courtesy:http://www.kolkatamirror.com/

Swamiji is in the city to spread Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s message of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. Said Swamiji about this spiritual-walking movement, “We are reaching out to more and more people as it is the need of the hour. They are waiting for us. We’ll give not only practical wisdom but also walk on the road.”

Swamiji’s yatra has covered many parts of Kolkata including Manicktala, Beliaghata, Salt Lake, Rajabazar, Thakupukur, Kalighat, Howrah, etc. On these walks, mostly covering half to 1 km, he is accompanied by AOL volunteers. Members are seen carrying placards with messages of peace, singing devotional songs, inviting and encouraging people to take Swamiji’s blessings, distributing smiley badges, fruits, biscuits and pictures of Swamiji himself.

Ravi Ranka, volunteer, AOL says that in India people have faith in blessings of saints. “You can do good by many a means – by feeding others, helping at mental, financial, spiritual level. This movement is a spiritual one – the character of individuals changes by being blessed.”

According to Seema Hirwani, another volunteer, this is an awareness program, which holds masses psychologically and thus facilitates linking between themselves and the larger society and spiritual self. “We are going to slum areas mostly as it is in these areas that the level of spiritual awareness is less and Swamiji’s blessing will give them an outlet which is restricted to the people of the upper strata usually.”

 

People seeking blessings of Swamy

People seeking blessings of Swamy Madhusudan - Image Courtesy: http://www.kolkatamirror.com/

India, known for it’s faith in the divine, has always had miracles during such journeys. One such miracle took place during this program. “We went to Nadia and this woman who had been confined to a wheelchair got up and started walking after Swamiji’s blessing!” recounted another volunteer.

Ajoy Saha, teacher at AOL, said that AOL envisions one world family with a smile on every face. Swamiji will be in Kolkata till November 6, whereon he will visit other northeast states and return to other parts of West Bengal including Durgapur, Purulia, Murshidabad, Aila affected area Basanti, Siliguri, Darjeeling, Gangtok, among others.

Defining spirituality as ‘something very open, the essence of religion’, Swamiji’s message to people is, “People needs to broaden their vision, delve deep into their roots, see things in an open perspective, be centered and calm and responding to the needs of the moment without panicking, getting stressed or violent.”

Having toured many parts of India, did Swamiji find anything different in Kolkata? “I felt the people in Kolkata are more deeply devotional than in other parts of the country.”

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