Thursday, April 27, 2017

India, China relations like US-North Korea ties, none can dare to fight each other: Dalai Lama

In what is seen as an endorsement of tough and assertive stance taken by the Narendra Modi government during Dalai Lama's recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, the 82-Tibetan spiritual leader today compared India-China relations with that between the United States and North Korea and said notwithstanding gestures, either side cannot afford to "fight" each other. 

Delivering a talk after receiving the M L Sondhi International Prize for International Politics for 2016, the Dalai Lama said the Sino-Indian relation is now similar to the one between the United States and North Korea. "One day, either side will be very serious (against each other).....but in reality no body dare to fight," he said. The Chinese side also realises, he said, "India is not a small country" and "it has military power now". 
Therefore, the Tibetan leader said both sides should be ready to make "compromises"  -- an obvious reference to dialogue to end the long pending vexed relations between two Asian giants.
Moreover, the Dalai Lama said, China also realises that if they have conflict with India, "they also have to think about situation inside China".On his recent visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh amidst strong reservation from China, the Dalai Lama said while his visit had clearance from the Indian authorities, "fortunately when I was in Tawang, there was no intrusion...if some Chinese soldiers might have come, then I would have to rush back, but fortunately that has not happened".
During interaction at the session, attended among others by former Union Minister Arun Shourie and former Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh; the Dalai Lama said "more and more Chinese people are appreciative of Tibetan issue" than they were in the past.

"The Chinese have to think about the situation inside Tibet when it comes to conflict with India,” he said, responding to a question. He, however, sidestepped a direct response to a query on China renaming six places of Arunachal, saying places in Tibet have also been renamed, mostly because “they (the Chinese) could not pronounce them properly.”
To a question, he said there is a perceptible "change" and "difference" in the approach of Chinese people towards him (Dalai Lama) and Tibetan issue than the Chinese government. He said there was totalitarian regime in Beijing and the censorship they do with the news and information about the truth of Tibetan movement towards their own people is "morally wrong". But he said it is high time both the Chinese establishment and others realise that "things will change". In this context, he cited the illustration of the Soviet Union and pointed out that totalitarian regime had to collapse there.
Blogger and Lalit Mansingh
"When I meet many retired Chinese officials and other citizens, they show genuine concern....In fact every week I meet some Chinese from mainland China," he said adding, however, the governmental system there is "totalitarian". "I tell Chinese people; 1.4 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality (of Tibetan history and movement)," he said. "The censorship is morally wrong," he said.
Speaking on the occasion, former diplomat Lalit Mansingh also lauded Central government's stance vis-a-vis the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh and said the "stout defence" of the stand is highly appreciable.
Such gestures, he said, were "rare" display of assertiveness by Indian government with regards to China. 
The 82-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader had visited Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month when Beijing registered its protest saying, "It (Dalai Lama's visit) goes against the momentum of the sound growth of bilateral relations and will not benefit India in anyway."  Braving strong reservation from China, the Indian government stood by its ground with the government making it clear that as a secular country India could not stop a spiritual leader's visit to any part including Arunachal Pradesh.
Among others, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said when India has never interfered in Beijing’s affairs and has respected the “One China” policy, China should not interfere in India’s internal affairs or object to the Dalai Lama’s visit. 
“There is no political angle behind his holiness’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. It is completely religious,” he said. Separately, the External Affairs Ministry said no “artificial controversy” should be created about the visit.
The Dalai Lama recalled "immense help" from Indian government during the time of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and said after decades now the "small refugee community" of Tibetans have able to come forward and is able to make "some contributions".
"Now the situation is such, we can make some significant contributions not only in India but also eventually in China," he said.
He termed India-Tibetan relationship has 'Guru-Chela (teacher-disciple) bond' and said "so, logically when chela faces some problems, Guru has some more responsibility and you have done that...thank you".
Speaking on the occasion, former Union Minister and noted writer Arun Shourie said the Tibetan spiritual leader deserved a special award for his ability to make his audience laugh at such demanding situations. 

Mr Shourie further said the Dalai Lama's stance that "blind faith is no right thing" and said not many religion and religious leaders have said this. 
Professor M L Sondhi International Prize is conferred by a trust set up in the memory of Sondhi, who was an eminent diplomat to have served also in the United Nations. He was also a member of the 4th Lok Sabha.

To continue with Institution of Dalai Lama is not important, says Dalai Lama

New Delhi, Apr 27 (UNI) The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama today said the issue of legacy is not important as far as the movement for the Tibetan political autonomy is concerned and it is not important whether the institution of Dalai Lama should continue or not.
"Right from 1969 one of my official statements has been that it is not important whether the institute of Dalai Lama should continue...I sincerely believe Buddha's teaching is more important than the Buddha," the Dalai Lama said after receiving the M L Sondhi International Prize for International Politics for 2016.
He also said that "the world is changing fast" and a large number of Chinese citizens are now appreciative of the Tibetan issue.

However, in an interesting remarks, as some one who has fought communism over the years, the 82-year-spiritual leader was appreciative of Marxism as an economic theory.
"Karl Marx theory was wonderful but Lenin spoiled it," he said throwing the entire audience into peels of laughter.
The Dalai Lama said he had once even confronted Michael Gorbachev on this and the erstwhile leader of the Soviet Union had no answer.

The Dalai Lama recalled "immense help" from Indian government during the time of Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and said after decades now the "small refugee community" of Tibetans have able to come forward and is able to make "some contributions".

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Globalisation, Diversity has eroded mutual faith leading to 'hate crimes': American scholar

Laws are obviously not the only answer to hate crimes and even as some quarters push about stricter laws to deal with it, it is a "hard proposition" to believe that awarding higher penalties can really help, an American expert and a noted writer on right-wing populism has said here.
Mark Potok, also associated with US-based civil rights organisation Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), said that "the real answer has to come from building inter-communal relationship".

"There is a sociologist study which has found that with increasing diversity, communities have become less trust worthy," Mr Potok told a select group of Indian journalists through a video conferencing interaction here last evening.
This is not to suggest that the sociologists' study opposes multi-cultural identity and the spirit of diversity, but he said, "while society becoming more diverse, it is good for the society in certain ways; in certain ways it creates loss of trust".

Giving at length various facets of historical perspective of racial crimes and both old and new legislation in at least 45 provinces in the United States besides federal law on hate crimes, he said, "One aspect is that the hate crimes typically have more target than the individual who is attacked".
He further said another issue of worry is that the hate crimes "tend to split" the communities into various categories. In other words, the hate crime gives an impression that here is a country that struggles to get different kinds of communities together.

He said at present 45 out of 50 provincial states besides the federal government have the anti hate crime laws in the United States. To a question, he sought to counter the perception that "snobbish" attitudes of Americans have also led to increase in number of hate crimes in that country and rather said "there is lot of anger" among the native people as they feel their rights and privileges are being taken over by migrants and foreigners.

The Asian share of legal immigrants into America has increased from nearly 7 percent in the 1950s to 35 percent by the 1980s and about 40 percent in 2013-14. "There is a major demographic change and therefore the role of globalisation is also crucial with regard the emergence of right wing," he said.It is in this context, Mr Potok, Editor of 'Hate Watch', said, there is much about politics of 2016 in the United States that triggered hate crimes. "There is no doubt that they were related to the elections. One, largest number of hate crimes occurred a day immediately after the elections and the numbers west down virtually every day for about a month," Mr Potok said.

“Besides, in 37 per cent of the cases the perpetrators, in one way or the other reference Donald Trump while attacking or abusing the victim, like ‘Get Out of here, Trump is our President now’ or his ‘Making America Great Again’,” he said. On this backdrop -- triggering the hate campaigns and hate crimes, he said, "a very, very similar thing happened in the United Kingdom immediately after the Brexit and Britons voted out of the European Union". 

Such crimes are directed against all kinds of people - including the immigrants.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

LK Advani certainly remains chief protagonist of Babri Masjid demolition saga

The Babri Masjid demolition saga certainly has many tales and anecdotes about LK Advani, the chief architect of the 'Ram Janmabhoomi' temple movement.The Supreme Court order on April 19, 2017 restoring 'criminal conspiracy' charge against Mr Advani and others for the now infamous destruction of the 16th century Masjid is actually like completing the full circle - as right from 1989-90 --- the former Deputy Prime Minister remains the chief protagonist of all developments in Ayodhya and "about Ayodhya".

It was Mr Advani's famous Rath Yatra that had first galvanised BJP and RSS cadres and also motivated numerous Hindus across the country towards Hindutva politics -- almost considered a 'pariah' in an era of Left-liberalism of 1980s and 1990s.
First, it brought down the VP Singh ministry -- after Mr Advani was arrested by the then Lalu Prasad government in Bihar. Interestingly, the order of arrest was executed by a civil servant named RK Singh -- who is ironically the BJP MP from Arrah parliamentary seat. Thus, it is not without reason - one can say former Deputy Prime Minister did make a big difference to Indian politics.
The Ayodhya movement and LK Advani’s name can easily go synonymous with each other. According to Mr Advani's friend and longtime compatriot in national politics, George Fernandes, "not an usual run-of-the-mill politician  Lal (George used to address LK Advani as Lal) had actually found his “political roots in Ayodhya’s Ram''.
Mr Fernandes had made the remarks at a media interaction in Ahmedabad in 2002.

illustrious George
But it was Mr Advani -- yet again -- who had resigned as the Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha in 1992 when Babri Masjid was destroyed.
Some years later, Mr Advani -- by then also given the title Loh Purush -- had almost committed a harakiri during his trip to Pakistan in 2005 and wherein he had said, the day Babri Masjid was brought down (in 1992) -- "it was saddest day of my life". Even on September 30, 2010 after the verdict of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court - Mr Advani had maintained a statesmanlike stand and said, “What the court has said does not justify the demolition”.The three-bench court order on September 30, 2010 -- had said that a two-thirds portion of the disputed land is to be shared by two Hindu plaintiffs and one-third will be given to the Sunni Muslim Waqf Board.
Aptly, Mr Advani’s statement had come in for appreciation by columnists and observers. 
“This is a clear denunciation and disowning of the crime of 1992 by a top BJP leader than you have heard of the Emergency of 1975 by a top Congress leader,” wrote senior journalist Shekhar Gupta in The Indian Express, October 2, 2010.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Bangladesh liberation was "inevitable", West Pakistanis were bullies, assaulted Bengali pride : 1971 war veteran

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto must have felt guilty having wronged Bangabandu Mujibur Rahman after the elections and denied power to the Awami League leader. -- So says a surviving 1971 War Veteran Brigadier Onkar S Goraya.
A proud Indian soldier, Brig Goraya still retains an original newspaper of December 18, 1971 -- that carried the banner headline -- 'Yahya accepts Ceasefire'. In fact, the first lead story of 'Hindustan Times' carried a UNI (United News of India) filed copy -- with the first sentence reading: "Pakistan President Yahya Khan today ordered his troops to ceasefire along the western front......".
Brig Goraya (Retd) of 57 Artillery, who had moved to the forward areas in Agartala during the war as part of his unit's Operation 'Nut Cracker', said, the Independence of Bangladesh was inevitable as "there was no cultural and historical affinity between West Pakistan and East Pakistan". 

He said Late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi pursued "diplomatic offensive" very well making the global community understand India's role in the conflict between East Pakistan and West Pakistan very well. "Militarily, the strategic planning at every level was very good. Right from Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and higher echelons down to Brigade commands, it was all very good planning.....The units advancements and formation and the vital artillery support....all went off very well," Brig. Goraya told me in a brief interview. 
Rare Document signed by Mujib and Hasina
"It was finally proved to the world that Mohammed Ali Jinnah's two-nation theory based on religious divide was only a fallacy. Religion cannot unite people. People ultimately long for cultural affinity, they adore the affinity of language," said Brig Goraya, who was in Delhi to meet the visiting Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

"Moreover, West Pakistanis were bullies. They tried to impose Urdu language. The Bengali culture was assaulted and rightly so the Bengalis revolted," he said, adding, even if 1971 was avoided -- East Pakistan would have one day come out of the West Pakistan "sooner than later". 

Recalling his role in the War, Brig Goraya said, "I was a Major those days and as part of our unit's deployment was in Agartala as Staff Officer to Brigade Commandant Janggi Singh Baba. We all got involved in Operation Nut Cracker. It was a fierce battle as from December 1 to 4, the enemy gave us a good fight; but then we took over and they  were on run".
He still has clear memories of helicopter movements braving the darkness of night and often inclement weather over River Meghna and Indian Army subsequently entering strategic locations like Brahmanbari and Bhairavbazar.

"It was like living through a different era. May be unthinkable in present times. Everyone wanted to contribute to the war. People of Bangladesh were very cooperative amid multiple challenges. They knew we were there to help them. They felt proud of Indian Army and BSF's role," he said.
Besides the battle front, another exciting part of his involvement during the Liberation War of Bangladesh, Brig Goraya said was the "uncertainty" for sometime on whereabout of  Bangabandhu Mujibur Rahman. 
Brig Goraya with Hasina, April 7, 2017, New Delhi
"After the great victory, the new-born country was caught in the mad euphoria of rejoicing and celebrating. But there was a subtle deficiency - the absence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the father of the new born baby," he said, adding, people knew that Mujibur Rahman was arrested by West Pakistani forces on March 25, 1971 and taken to West Pakistan.
"There were doubts, whether he would return at all," said Goraya, who has also penned a book on the 1971 War.

Brig Goraya, now based in Chandigarh, said he was in the national capital also to handover a copy of his book,
'Leap Across Meghna - Blitzkreig of 1V Corps 1971' to Sheikh Hasina.
In fact, Ms Hasina was "excited" in seeing the book which has a few rare photographs and a nice narration of  arrangements for 10th January, 1972 grand parade at Dhaka, he said.
Answering questions, Brig Goraya said Indira Gandhi's 'diplomatic offensive' had long term impact as after the 1971 War, "the global image of India of a laid back and dithering nation changed overnight".
"It is unfortunate that the nation reverted back to this image after a decade or so. But we are changing now and these are good trends," he said making it clear - however - that his comments should not be interpreted in political context.
Blogger outside Manekshaw Centre
To a question, war veteran Brig Goraya said ultimately "better sense" prevailed on Zulfikar Ali Butto and Mujib was released.
"There were certainly apprehensions that as 90,000 Prisoners of War were held by India, whether Mujib too will be held as hostage. But slowly public opinion in Pakistan turned against Yahya Khan," he said, adding the onus then fell on Bhutto to act.
"Compelled by the urgency to focus on rebuilding the broken pieces of Pakistan and also mounting international pressure, Bhutto took the pragmatic decision and released Mujib....I strongly feel Bhutto also must have felt guilty having wronged Mujib after the elections and denying power to Bangabandhu," he said.

In tribute to 'cooperative federalism', PM Modi plays "host" to West Bengal Chief Minister

New Delhi, Apr 8 (UNI) Indian democracy and the federal polity have their own beauties. The strength of that uniqueness and 'cooperative federalism' came to the fore today when Prime Minister of India played a humble host to the Chief Minister of West Bengal. Mercurial Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee must have come to Lutyen's city innumerable times -- but for rare occasion had she been designated as an "honoured guest" of the incumbent Prime Minister.
"I am very happy that the Chief Minister of West Bengal is my honoured guest today," Mr Modi said in his statement at Hyderabad House after meeting with his counterpart from Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina. "I know that her (Mamata's) feelings for Bangladesh are as warm as my own. I assure you and the people of Bangladesh of our commitment and continuing efforts," Mr Modi said in a reference to the stalled Teesta Water sharing treaty. "I firmly believe that it is only my Government and Excellency Sheikh Hasina, your Government, that can and will find an early solution to Teesta Water Sharing," Prime Minister said in the presence of Mamata Banerjee.
Ms Banerjee -- clad in a green bordered off-white sari -- also posed for joint photograph with both the Prime Ministers with Mr Modi in the middle.

Mr Modi also pointed out in no unambiguous term that the Teesta Water Treaty would be vital for India-Bangladesh relationship. Prime Minister Modi is believed to be trying to get the Treaty approved -- that remained in cold storage for decades. The pact was almost through during the tenure of Dr Manmohan Singh but Mamata Banerjee's opposition to it in 2011 did not allow the Treaty to materialise.

West Bengal has about 123 km stretch of Teesta flowing through it and farmers in Jalpaiguri, South Dinajpur and Darjeeling are dependent on its water for irrigation. For Bangladesh, its rice belt is largely dependent on Teesta and farmers of Rangpur, Nilphamari, Gaibandha, Kurigram and Lalmonirhat are affected by it.