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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Trumpeting Elephant vs Hissing Dragon

November 9, 2009

IBN Live (India)
November 8, 2009

Myanmar/Burma was once a part of British India.
Does that make it ours again? Tibet once extended
dominion over parts of China. Does that make
China a part of Tibet today? Tibet once
controlled parts of Arunachal Pradesh, albeit
tenaciously and China today rules Tibet by force.
Does that make parts of Arunachal Pradesh a part
of China? Well, China indeed does think so. Logical? Yes and No.

No for the simple reason that such extrapolations
and corollaries would confuse an already confused
world. Logical, yes, because China is pricking
India. Not just in Arunachal Pradesh , but
elsewhere too. It is known to be stoking Maoist
uprisings in Nepal--our neighbor. It is known to
have supplied nuclear technology to Pakistan--our
neighbor. It is supportive of the military Junta
in Myanmar - our neighbor. It has close defence
ties with Bangladesh, our neighbor. It is
encircling India with a new sphere of influence.
Why? Simple, the world is like its people.
Countries are like people--groups of people,
masses of people. Alone, a person would rule the
world. Bring in two, and egos would begin to
clash. Have three and politics will begin with
one allying with the other of the remaining two.
This is how humans behave and countries do. No
one knows the future, yet everyone tries to
control it. China is trying to control a future
it knows will be an intensely competitive one. It
will be competing against India for almost
everything that matters. And it is trying to find
friends and allies. And it is also trying to find issues and foes.

I don't want to sound nightmarish, but this is a
blog and so I can say it. I believe that within
our lifetimes we will see immense disturbance in
the world we live in. Immense turmoil and
upheaval, and all of it human engineered.

India is a rising power, but so is China. India
is a democracy, China is a communist command
economy with broad sweeps of capitalism washing
over it creating a measure of discord amongst its
people. China is progressing fast, India is
progressing just a wee bit slower. But India is a
free nation for its citizens. It is a democracy.
China apparently is, but really is not. It is not
a democracy. China has its problems of disparate
growth with wealth concentrated in its eastern
sea board. India has 1.2 billion people. China
has 1.4 billion. Both nations are consuming ever
increasing food, meat, energy and information.
Already, everywhere in the world, there is
competition between India and China for resources
as both find themselves bidding for the same
items on the world's markets. As both become
prosperous, the pressures and demands will only
increase. Today the one that has more money calls
the shots. Tomorrow when both have loads of it
and when mere money will not seem to matter, the
games will begin. What we are seeing today is a
mere prelude to it all. The same oil fields, the
same mines, the same corporates, the same banks
and both India and China out with their wallets.

And I shudder to think, that we think we have
evolved and become more civilized. It was but 65
years back when the Second World War was raging
and millions were dying brutal deaths in war and
concentration camps. 65 years is not too long
back and too little a time span to have changed
fundamental human nature. We want things. We are
materialistic. When we don't get things we tend
to fight and when stakes are high we tend to
kill. We are like that. Dangerous animals. Don't
misunderstand forks and knives on well laid out
tables with black liveried waiters for
civilization. Perhaps we also like to masquerade.

So what am I trying to say here? Just that behind
a complex interplay of politics lie simple fights
for resources. Power is tempting because it
provides access to resources, whatever they may be.

When China fumes over Dalai Lama's visit to
Arunachal Pradesh, it is simply flexing muscles
and asserting claims over resources if not
indicating that it is capable of being a
nuisance. But perhaps this time China has
overplayed its cards. Tired of being quiet and
hoping China will glower, hiss and then go away,
India has realized that China will never let up.
How can it? It needs to gobble up more and more
of the worlds resources to keep itself going and
growing. And so does India. For the first time
the Tibet card is turning out to be hugely
important. There are 1.2 lakh Tibetans in India,
and the younger generation wants freedom. It
wants China out of Tibet. Totally and completely.
Tibet is the biggest buffer India could hope for
between China and itself. Today China stands on
India's borders using the Tibetan plateau. But
Tibet even today is restive. It is not China. And
as Tenzin Tsundue, the Tibetan writer and
activist in Dharamshala who climbs hotel walls
and displays Tibetan flags to ruffle Chinese
visitors says, India has nurtured many Tibetans
like him who have not seen Tibet ever, yet are
aggressive supporters of complete freedom and
willing to fight and die for their homeland. The
Dalai Lamas presence at Tawang in Arunachal will
be the best symbolism for India's territorial
integrity. China will look on impotently as the
Dalai Lama prays at the monastery that had
welcomed him when he trekked into India in 1959.

President Obama has designated a special envoy to
interface with the Dalai Lama. Why? Because he is
important. Why? Because he exerts influence over
Tibetans. So? He can swing the direction in which
the Tibetan protest winds blow for China. So? He
can be an important influence in keeping China in
check. So? China can be prevented from focusing
on destabilizing other countries, because it will
need to fear its own destabilization. So?
Americans will find a balance of powers
developing and keeping each other busy, in this
case India and China. So? America continues to
exert influence over both as they balance each
other. And influence gets you money. And
resources. See, we come back to the same thing...resources?

The Tibetan movement is focused and clear. The
Muslim-dominated Uighur movement is still
nebulous and disparate. China also wants to use
the present situation to create an Indian bogey.
When internal unrest threatens to loom, create
the bogey of an external threat to unite its own
people. Taiwan is too small a threat, Japan is
farther away, with Russia there are no serious
issues, India is the best bet to project as a
threat. So claims over Arunachal, India's
protests, China's counter protests, the Dalai
Lama somewhere in between - part of the great
game. After all we are humans. Lets not forget that.

So what will happen? Obviously, I don't know! But
what I do know is--the games have begun. The
world will compete and then fight. Again. I don't
think we can wish it away. What do you think?
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