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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Letters to Editor -- A fragile Peace Frays

November 8, 2009

Tehelka (India)
NOVEMBER 7, 2009


PREM SHANKAR JHA has aptly dubbed India's
attitude vis-a-vis China a perpetual 'official
state of denial.' Unfortunately, he too seems to
be afflicted. How can an informed scholar like
him overlook the fact that the Dalai Lama and his
handful of refugees have won for themselves a far
more formidable position vis-a-vis Beijing than a
vast army of babus have managed for New Delhi?
Demanding, now, that the Dalai Lama redefine the
history and geography ofTibet to make it
palatable to Beijing's colonial taste buds and
modify Tibet's concept of autonomy to match the
wishes and work styles of the Communist Party of
China reminds me of the Mahabharata's Eklavya
being urged to cut offhis own thumb to appease
Dronacharya. Warnings of'catastrophic economic
consequences; the 'collapse ofthe stock market'
and unemployment rising by the 'tens ofmillions'
- these sound like nothing but a sad reproduction
ofthe Chinese propaganda blitzkrieg by a
respected Indian communicator whose opinion and
advice are taken seriously by policy makers and the public at large.

Sadly, Mr Jha, a brilliant journalist, has ended
up as just another foot soldier of Beijing.

It's no secret any longer that Chi na is
terrified of internal unrest in Tibet, Xinjiang
and Inner Mongolia. When China threatens India on
Arunachal, it only exposes ,its its own
vulnerability and helplessness when faced with
the Dalai Lama and Tibet's international support.
To escape this helplessness, Beijing is now
threatening a vulnerable New Delhi to demoralise
and weaken its sworn enemy, the Dalai Lama,
through local pressure. India's experience of
Pokhran2 has already proved that the world
provides every accommodation for self-respecting,
strong nations. Those who give way timidly are
the first to be crushed in the stampede of competing national interests.

Vijay Kranti, Delhi

With respect to 'The Bull in China's Shop'
(October 31), we Tibetans are only seeking real
autonomy to live without fear of persecution. Who
is Mr Jha to point out the flaws in our proposal?
Who should we blame - Chinese, Tibetans or
Indians - for the current suffering ofTibetans?
Why should we suffer just to save Chinese pride?

Perna Karze, on email

China's insecurities are its own problem and
should not be allowed to blackmail anyone.
Beijing is dangerously unbalanced and potentially
mad. It is really an insecure China that is a
dangerous 'Bull in the World's shop." Where does
Tibet go, if India gives up on it? India has a
special responsibility towards Tibetan culture.
In addition, water resources and rights are extremely important.

Peter Blattner, New Zealand

Mr Jha has written a really good article on the
India-China relationship. Time is running short;
India and the world are in for a rude shock when
conflict eventually comes. However,l have
reservations on what you advise as being the way
forward. Cuffing the Tibetans to their
negotiating positions would be a mistake,
especially limiting the subjects devolved to the
TAR adminstration. The Tibet issue has broader ramifications.

There are overriding reasons why Tibet affords
India leverage over China; it would not be in
'India's interests to have Tibet resolved without
extracting advantage from China. China's goal is
not just the forceful resolution ofTibet but the
establishment ofa Han hegemony - not only in
China but beyond. In Asia, only India has the
potential to act as a counterweight.

Therefore, the current stance of Indian foreign
policy is correct. Tibet is a tactical issue
within a greater strategic struggle between India
and China. india's self interest is in calling
the Chinese bluff Sabre-rattling aside, neither
China nor India can afford a war without
devastating consequences. India is not Taiwan and shouldn't behave like it.

China has become India's largest trading partner
and India is China's 10th largest trading
partner. Any war would result in not only severe
consequences for India, but equally debilitating
consequences for China. India is the only market
with the enormous appetite to match the enormous
capacity of the Chinese manufacturing industry.

All the while, India's military should be
strengthened with the help ofthe West. We should
be holding military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh.

A totalitarian Han hegemony in Asia would be the
worst possible outcome for India.

Ahmed Suheil Manzoor,
on email
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