Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Swamy's Championship of Ram Sethu and the Chief's Take on Tibet (Again)

I am a little intrigued by the Hindu's unexpected willingness to support the campaign against the Ramar Sethu. It has given a fair amount of coverage to the ongoing proceedings in the Supreme Court on this question but more importantly, to the views of Subramanyam Swamy who took the case to the court in the first place. Today it published a long news item on what Swamy thinks of the issue. Swamy and the Chief seem to have been quite chummy for some time. The two appear to go way back. Both have visited China and upon return, heaped encomiums on their hosts (did the Chief organize Swamy's trip in the first place? Someone ought to throw light on this). Swamy even wrote a book asking India to give up the Tibet cause (India's China Perspective) and the two in fact authored articles upon the subject in the same issue of Frontline. Swamy's attempts to now curry favor with the Sangh Parivar, most recently through his newfound love for Lord Ram does not appear to have affected this bonhomie in any way. In fact, there is at least one item every other day on what he said on some matter. Wonder what's cooking.

In the latest issue of Frontline, the Chief has authored one more article on Tibet, this time in more detail than his previous editorialization in the Hindu. He repeats much of the same stuff but in addition points out the various 'falsehoods' in the Western press relying upon the ultimate source of God's very own word (oops! Should I say Mao/Deng's very own word?) - the Chinese government owned news service, the China daily. There are also some other notable assertions:

So what was the provocation for the violence in Lhasa and some Tibetan ethnic areas outside TAR? What is the cause for which these pro-Dalai Lama agitators are fighting? It cannot be economic because the economy of the Tibet Autonomous Region, as virtually everyone who has been there recognises, is on a roll. Nobody in their right mind has accused the Chinese government – with its sights set firmly on economic development, political stability, and a ‘harmonious society’ and just ahead of the August Beijing Olympics – of any new set of suppressive measures, political, economic, social, or cultural, against the 2.6 million ethnic Tibetans who constitute more than 92 per cent of the 2.8 million population of the Tibet Autonomous Region or against the 3.9 million Tibetans who live in other Chinese provinces and regions outside TAR.

So he is saying that the oppression cannot be a reason for the riots because it is not new! By this brilliant argument, most popular movements are unjustified since uprisings do not happen upon the first instance of provocation but only when the people are tired of it and see no other recourse to change. is Mao Zedong’s portrait that you will find in a large number of ordinary Tibetan homesbecause he continues to be seen as the liberator of a million serfs from the old feudal regime of landowning aristocrats and upper class monks. During my 2007 visit, I noticed that a growing number of Tibetan families also appeared to see no contradiction in displaying pictures of the 14th Dalai Lama, typically besides smaller portraits of the 10th and 11th Panchen Lamas, inside their homes. These moderate demonstrations of reverence for the Dalai Lama as a religious leader, which I did not witness during my 2000 visit to Tibet, seemed to reflect a more relaxed socio-political situation in TAR as well as in more developed Tibetan autonomous areas outside the region. But the riots and disturbances of March-April 2008 have obviously brought about a change in this situation.

So, in Tibet as Ram understands it, Mao Zedong's potrait is the one that is predominant in ordinary Tibetan homes. Are we supposed to believe this? Are the recent reports of those keeping pictures of the Dalai Lama being arrested false? There have been too many of them from authentic sources that are not easily refuted to believe that to be the case. Ram does not explicitly say so and seems to be actually surprised that people would want to put up his potrait calling it 'moderate demonstrations of reverence'. Of course their greatest reverence has to be to Mao Zedong for who else could have inflicted such devastation upon them during the cultural revolution?

...most troubling from a progressive Indian standpoint, the reality of a continuing Indian base of operations for the ‘Tibetan government-in-exile.’

This is a point he and other communists have never failed to make - that the Indian government must rein in the Dalai Lama. I thought progressive meant greater freedom and the right to strive for self-rule. Apparently, the rules of the game are different when the adversary is the Communist Party.

On the past failure of dialogue between the two sides, here is his take:

This, in fact, is an acknowledgement of the big gap – which cannot be narrowed unless the Dalai Lama and his establishment radically modify their stand on two core issues.

So it can only be successful if the Dalai Lama surrenders unconditionally. Why beat around the bush with phrases such as 'radically modify their stand' instead of being honest and upfront about it? Apart from the fact that the Chinese constitution does not allow for Tibetan autonomy, he adds another reason it cannot happen.

The law, it has been pointed out, defines national regional autonomy as the basic political system of the Communist Party of China to solve the country’s ethnic issues using Marxism-Leninism. The content of autonomy, which in the Chinese constitutional and political context essentially means self-administering opportunities and subsidies and preferential policies from the state to help the autonomous region overcome historical backwardness, can certainly be improved.

However, the kind of autonomy that the Dalai Lama demanded in November 2005 – “the Central Government should take care of defence and foreign affairs, because the Tibetans have no experience in this regard, but the Tibetans should have full responsibility for education, economic development, environmental protection, and religion” – cannot possibly be accommodated within the Chinese Constitution. Further, his demand that “a Tibetan government should be set up in Lhasa and should have an elected administrative chief and possess a bicameral legislative organ and an independent judicial system” is ruled out of court. Beijing’s 2004 white paper, ‘National Regional Autonomy in Tibet,’ is emphatic that, in contrast to Hong Kong and Macao that follow the capitalist system, Tibet does not face the possibility of introducing another social system.

So autonomy is not possible not only because the Chinese constitution cannot be amended (being the word of God (or whatever else that takes its place in the Marxist lingo), the Constitution is clearly immutable) but because it would amount to having to give up communism! What could be more outrageous than that!

Then comes this gem of 'reasonableness':
The talks will continue, as they should. Civility, open-mindedness, flexibility, and a positive attitude to resolving the Tibet question will certainly help, on both sides.

Civility, open-mindedness, flexibility and positive attitude will all help. Of course, these only apply to the Dalai Lama's side which in order to fulfil these requirements must commit itself voluntarily and without conditions of any kind to total surrender.

Finally comes this word of advice.

For those who espouse ‘independence for Tibet’ – organisations like the ‘Tibetan Youth Congress,’ the ‘National Democratic Party of Tibet,’ and the ‘International Tibet Support Network’ – the future looks bleak indeed. One thing is absolutely clear: as much as the future of Goa, Sikkim, and Kashmir belongs to India, the future of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the extensive Tibetan autonomous areas that form part of four major provinces will reside – in their differentiated and distinctive ways – within one China.

Yes, the future of the Tibet autonomous region must be like Goa, Kashmir or Sikkim. Goa never had an independence movement that took off seriously. Sikkim voluntarily joined the Indian Union after being under its protection for a long time and is governed by the special state-specific provision Art. 371F in the Constitution of India. As for Kashmir which is the only one of the three states that has had a strong and comparable streak of independence, it already has autonomy guaranteed under Art. 370. Besides, people in all of these states elect their governments, a right denied to Tibetans. In light of these differences, I admire the audacity of the Chief in attempting to appeal to his readers' sense of equity and fairplay by making such a preposterous comparison.

Apart from one mention of his visit to Tibet, there is little evidence of any real disclosure. Still, one must admire his unswerving loyalty to China and his determined efforts to aggressively promote Chinese propoganda employing every mephistophelean method at his disposal. Seeing the extent of mendacity involved and his willingness to stake his paper's and his reputation all in dogged pursuit of this goal, I wonder what the reward in exchange for these efforts must be.


Shankar said...

Chinese aren't comfortable with Agni III test. Waiting to hear the Chief Comrade's take on this. Will his masters permit him to write about Indian security interests?

RM said...

It is amazing that Ram provides plenty of space for Swamy and his views in The Hindu despite his recent romance with the sangh parivar.As you ponited out, the only visible thread that connects Ram and Swamy is their love for China. For me, this really shows the loyalty Ram has for his masters in China. Secularists usually prefer death to befriending a man with some sort of Sangh-conection.

pilid said...

Shankar, you are right that China may not approve of the test. I am not sure however that they worry so much because their own missile technology is way ahead of our own - they have a huge arsenal of ICBMs and are probably developing a missile shield as well. Still, I wonder why our communists have not made a big issue out of this so far - presumably, that is the reason (they have murmured some protests about our 'huge' defense spending but do not appear to have pushed the point very far).

rm, I agree. Swamy has been known as a political gadfly. He has few friends in any party. He has been with virtually every party at some point in his career and has eventually ended up alone. I do not quite know how come despite his brilliance, he has failed so miserably in his political efforts. He certainly seems the exception to the rule in terms of Ram's soft corner. Affinity to China may well be the answer.

Anonymous said...

There are is common ground between the two. One being the mutual dislike of Amma. The other being involved in the SCMS which organized a summit as recent as Jan. 08 when the duo was part of the organizing team.

Anonymous said...

Both NRam and Swamy are tambams.Both are mavericks.Both cannot speak tamil fluently.Swami atleast tries iyer baashai.Both have contempt for RSS.Both have the deeprooted suspicion that tambams have for hindiwallahs.I think this is rooted in historical reasons.The Aryans in tamil land had to grapple with a new language.In time they became familiar with the nuances of the language that became their mother tongue.They were the self appointed custodians of the sacred lore.

The 'intellectual' tamil brahman alternately envies or is exasperated by the north indian who does not share the angst of the southern brahmin .The northerner does not have to confront this dichotomy in his mental make up.He is 'free spirited' and his feelings,beliefs seem much more natural.This is always difficult to accept for the pretentious southern brahmin to accept.The centre of gravity of power is in north india.The political maverick wants to make a mark,but he is an outsider in Delhi.The southerner who wants to be heard and to lead feels his 'intellectual' eminence and 'profound' ideas matter little in delhi.

These pangs are shared by bongs,maharashtrians to a lesser extent.This 'noble' class believe they are carrying the burden of india.The more idle you are,the greater the conceit and vanity.

This explains to a great the antics and ideologies of Somnath Chatterjee,NRam,Prannoy Roy,Rajdeep Sardesai,Yechuri,Karat who are the self appointed intrepreters of sub-altern/dravidian traditions.The subalterns/dravidians themselves have a different view of reality.Even the RSS draws its leadership from this reservoir of morbidity.One has to accept this as the pains of growing up.

Swamy is different because he has an earthy common sense.He has no ideological baggage.He cares neither for RSS or communism.As a southie who has no base he has realised his limitations.Also as a brahmana his concern for hinduism is genuine.

NRam despite the way he projects himself cannot be totally wooly headed either.He is the chief of a commercial empire,who must be having his ears close to the ground.It makes sound business to woo the minorities.The neo literates among the minorities are a huge base.But NRam himself is an iyengar dandy.He is a socialite.His wealth,connections,power make him a part of the elite.By culture and tastes,he belongs to the upper class.While he would like the middle classes to keep to their station,he would not be very happy to see the crude vulgar types like TR Baalu to get too powerful.Class Interests! you see.The 'shudra' types climbing too high will hurt his 'refined' tastes.This is too much for their own good.

As for his fulminations on sikkim,goa it is 'nice' to see him vomitting in the open,making an ass of himself.

Radha Rajan said...

i see nothing wrong

pilid said...

Anon #1, thanks for the link. That is very informative.
Anon#2, interesting analysis. I had not thought of them being bound by caste/class affinity. Yet, they both seem to share a dislike for Jayalalitha who presumably shares the same caste/class status as well. You are of course right that Swamy does not care for any ideology. As for Ram, I do not know. Outwardly at least, he comes across as a communist though I do not doubt that he is politically very savvy and will not let ideology come in the way of his self-interest. His daughter has of course been largely educated in the imperial world and now works for Forbes, the magazine that specializes in the rich and famous.

pilid said...

Radha, Not sure what your pithy comment means. Could you explain?

Anonymous said...

"Karunanidhi hosts dinner for MLAs"

Here is a very important, socially relevant news report by our own Chindu.

"The Chief Minister, who adheres to a strict diet regimen, ate two idlis and also savoured a gulab jamoon. Most of his guests savoured parathas, biriyani and curd rice along with accompanying dishes. The conversations continued long after the last course was served.

As the Chief Minister rose to leave, after spending more than two hours at the dinner, a queue of people thanked him."

The venue was 'Taj Coromandel'.

And who are the folks present, besides MLAs, who dutifully thanked the CM?

"Among the guests were Assembly Speaker R. Avudaiappan, Ministers, leaders of political parties, civil servants, MLAs, prosecutors, the Advocate General and the Additional Advocate General."

We are also told that Leaders of political parties flanked Mr. Karunanidhi on the head table (shown by the photograph).

But, we are not told whether comrades were part of this maha bhojanam. If they didn't show up then it is admirable.

And those who were not hungry or who perhaps wanted to fast or did not want to show up (perhaps due to the traditional Dravidian political animosity):

"Missing were the members from the main Opposition party, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, and its ally, the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam. The lone Desiya Murpoku Dravida Kazhagam member, Vijayakant, was also absent."

Even if the Chief did not want to comment due to compulsions-political, business, family etc., we would expect Mr.Sainath to come out with a scathing commentary on this public display of conspicuous consumption, going by his frequent specialist reports on poverty, mass deprivation and his moral outrage on the rich and the mdia. Chief once proudly declared that "mass deprivation" is one of the courses in the curriculum in the Asian College of Journalism.

Chindu does not mention how much did the CM's generous dinner cost. Interestingly, there was another report the same day:

"Bank donates Rs. 1 crore to Chief Minister’s Relief Fund"

Shankar said...

Not bad.. Chief resists his China love from dictating this editorial on Agni-III. That would have discredited him completely and he knows that.

Anonymous said...

"......the future of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the extensive Tibetan autonomous areas that form part of four major provinces will reside – in their differentiated and distinctive ways – within one China." How emphatic and adamant can the Chief be?! In his own lifetime, he has seen the collapse of the Soviet Union, supposedly the "worker's paradise". Who is he to decide the fate of the Tibetans, sermonising and threatening them after a few guided tours provided by his masters.

Radha Rajan said...

meaning that all indian hindus should uphold the principle of one china, and that anti-nationals and secessionist forces should not be encouraged. think what our mohammedans will be encouraged to do if tubet were ever to break away from china. disaster.

Sinnaraja said...

I agree with "Radha Rajan". I think I am with the Hindu on this one guys.