Thursday, April 17, 2008

Free Tibet

A sham took place today in central Delhi. From Vijay Chowk to India Gate, right in front of the Presidential home, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, a few famous people held a torch and ran a few metres, light a few more torches held by other famous people who also ran a few metres, all the while being watched by a few Chinese and thousands of security personnel. This was the famous Olympic torch run on its India leg.

This was also a prime example of the Indian government behaving like a servant in front of the Chinese, who they treated as masters. If you've seen a servant in front of his master, he will fold his arms and do everything the master tells him, and flog his wife on the side in order to cede to the orders of his master. The Indian government flogged its own people, and gave into the whims and fancies of the Chinese overlords. Unprecedented security surrounded the Olympic torch run and the only people who were allowed direct visual access were some important officials, some Chinese and some school kids. The general public and anybody who even closely resembled a Tibetan were kept far away.

The US reaction was a lovely example of democracy. The Olympic torch run had to be protected, and it was. But free speech is also a right and the protesters were allowed that. Even though W made some random comments about how the Chinese and the Dalai Lama should engage in a dialogue, the US reaction was largely neutral. The Indian reaction, on the other hand, was very pro-Chinese. Although some Tibetan voices were heard, the knee-jerk reaction was to cow them down with force and bundle them into vans to transport them to jail. Tibetans were not allowed to demonstrate or protest freely. If it turned violent, then by all means enforce law and order, but not when it is a peaceful protest.

A major fallout of the Indian government thinking the Chinese way was the traffic situation. Since India Gate is at the centre of the city, a ripple there causes a wave in the rest of the city. The journey from my office to my house takes barely 30 min, including normal traffic. Today, it took me 150 min. There were portions where we did not move for long stretches of time. I was wondering how long it would be before the Army was called in to drop essential supplies.

Is it really worth inconveniencing millions, literally millions, of your own citizens to satisfy some neighbour who you don't like anyway? Is this not the attitude of the servant? The Chinese would have very smugly packed up the torch after the run, laughed amongst themselves at another battle won against India and left by the next available flight. The Indians meanwhile will be waiting expectantly for the largeness that the Chinese will show after this act of friendship and good faith. Do you know what the next Chinese move is going to be?

The Olympic torch is going to do a detailed run across China. But during that run, the torch is also going to visit a monastery that just incidentally falls in Arunachal Pradesh. Do the Chinese have the requisite Indian permission to do that? I don't know, but my guess is in the negative. Is it a bold move by the Chinese to claim ownership over disputed land, to show that parts of Arunachal Pradesh actually belong to China, just like Tibet? I don't know, but my guess is in the positive.

India, stand up for yourself. If you don't treat yourself with respect and demand respect, nobody will treat you with respect or give you any.


Anand said...

Hey Venky..anand here..tau that is.. let me attempt to fashion a response to your last two entries here. Well I am doing this for the first time.. throwing down my gauntlet in a public arena..have always been a private person after all , if you recall..

Let me address, first, the entry “Why I Will Be Boycotting IPL” ..please go ahead and do so..but lets not raise the bogey of “IPL is making us hate the fellow man”. Hmm…. Lets begin with the clich├ęd polemic i.e. “concept of a nation” and allow me approach this issue from the angle of identity.. you would agree that it is relatively easier to define the identity of an individual, less easier to do so for a residential block, then even less so for a city , then a state, a community and lot more difficult for a nation.
Lets try to see in how many ways political leaders, businessmen, poets, religious sects etc have tried to define an identity for India, let me enumerate a few of them. Before partition it was necessary to define India against the backdrop of imperialism, colonialism, invocation of a pristine vedic past, invocation of a secular and inclusive past for different purposes and by different leaders and individuals. Post independence “development” was deified and used to enable a collective imagination of India, industrial plants were modern temples, a concept of patriot producer (industrialists) was also used. In the past, historical ( historicized ) maps have been used as emblem of India ( bharat mata), “ vindhya, himachal , Yamuna Ganga……wanted us to see India in spatial sense even if we would never see all these places and rivers. And there are several other ways of collectively imagining a nation depending on the times, context and the situation.

You would of course agree that we hold multiple and conflicting identities of ourselves, our communities, state etc in our heads. Different identities get invoked in different context .So why question one more way of defining an identity of my nation or a city or a state.

My point is …identity , fraternity are shifting concepts.. and in IPL these concepts are not even in question…bhajji who belongs to Punjab wants to beat Punjabi team as he heads Mumbai Indian..Bret Lee bowls out Hayden and Yuvraj hugs him…..

And finally I challenge you to find an emblem or issue or an idea which would enable every Indian to collectively imagine a nation, caveat.. all of us should be able to participate in it..a guy from my village jaunpur to a guy like you with singular physical characteristics, and almost clipped angrezi accent.

Now I am tired of writing , I would comment on your latest entry some other time.

tiantian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anand said...

Please read the line "Before partition it was necessary to define India against ... " as "Before independence it was necessary to define India against .."

anand said...

To complete my argument…

You do not like the campaign therefore you would by boycotting IPL does not make sense , because as I argued in my previous comment that the IPL matches in themselves are not divisive in nature.. Come to think of it, bhajji from Punjab, captain of Mumbai slapped Sree Santh from Kerala playing for Mohali, well Sree Santh got slapped is of course not the issue . I am a bit confused here, along what lines is IPL divisive here? May be along the same lines as PGP1 and PGP2 were divided while playing softball..well whatever used to happen there was not a pretty sight though.

Now as far as the ads are concerned are they in bad taste? Well I have only seen the one where the old man is denied a seat in a crowded bus because he supports a certain team. Lets see ……I remember having heated arguments with my father, a BJP supporter, about the issues where I thought BJPs policies and stance were divisive, heated arguments with my brother about welfare state policies , but they remained my father and brother post the arguments. So once the match is over you are my friend…

That’s how we hold multiple and conflicting identities in our heads..he is a BJP supporter but he is also my I baying for father’s blood when he has decided to vote for BJP?

I would comment on your Tibet argument very soon..i am a bit sloshed right later...