Thursday, April 03, 2008

More Advice to the Tibetan Resistance

Today's op-ed by Dibyesh Anand is somewhat better than previous articles on the Tibetan question have been in the Hindu. It is reasonably objective though not entirely free from questionable ideological statements.

Much later, a secret letter from the British Indian government dated September 19, 1945 affirmed the policy that had been consistently followed over the last three decades — the British must not intervene in Tibet’s internal affairs since any modernisation would challenge the monastic order and throw it into the hands of the Chinese as a “slow process of evolution is suited to Tibetan mentality and to our interests.”

The last sentence is unclear. Who was this letter to? Besides, policy was framed in Whitehall, not by the British Indian government which was engaged in a constant tussle over its direction with China-based diplomats. So, while this sentiment is true, how influential this view was and how far it reflected official policy is uncertain.

When taking advantage of civil wars within China, Tibetans threw out Chinese officials and troops and Tibet became de facto independent in 1913-1949, it was not recognised by anyone as an independent state.

And a few paragraphs later,

Those like the Tibetans who lost out at the crucial moment of decolonisation find it hard to struggle for a separate nation-state unless there is a break-up of an existing state or the powerful states support secession.

Are these two statements not contradictory? If Tibet was independent, where is the question of decolonizing it? Is the Chinese invasion that ended Tibetan independence supposedly a decolonizing event? In a previous para, he says:

Chinese control over Tibet can be understood through two different imperial trajectories — one Chinese and one western.

Again, is Chinese imperialism decolonizing? Are not the words 'decolonization' and 'imperialism' mutually contradictory?

Finally, his solution:

Therefore, their best option is to struggle within the constitutional framework of China, which allows significant autonomy to minority nationalities in principle. Instead of struggling for ‘Free Tibet’, Tibetans may find it easier to make “China’s Tibet” work for Chinese as well as for Tibetans.Of course, this first requires a big change of heart inside China. Beijing should realise that it cannot buy off Tibetans into a submissive role within China and therefore needs to accommodate their aspirations within the Chinese state. China’s Tibet need not be a repressive place; it can be turned into a genuine showcase for the rising dragon’s inclusive nationalism.

Appealing to Chinese constitutionalism is a pie in the sky. With no constitutional means available to make such appeals, how exactly is someone supposed to bring about this change of heart that he talks about? I agree that there are no easy ways to resolve this issue but to start by sounding defeatist or asking people to use legal means is hardly the answer. While he does not seem to deny the legitimacy of their grievances, his balancing act makes him come across only as naive and deluded.

2 comments:

Praada said...

Pilid,

When you mean "better", it looks he is the "saner" of the demented in the asylum named Chindu.
Anand doesn't deserve anything better than that.

Anonymous said...

This article suspiciously seems to be an "embedded" one. Since Chindu has been getting a lot of brickbats (and may be a rare commie bouquet), Chief perhaps wants to appear evenhanded, as if providing some room for the other point of view, at the same time making sure it does not rub his masters on the wrong side. After all, he breathes, eats and exists for the sake of the Beijing commie clique.

All in all, Chindu is rapidly getting to be a sham of an exercise in journalism. Shakespeare lamented about King Lear: "From the heights of glory to the depths of degradation". Probably he forethought of Chindu also.