Modi: Tibet and China policy

Narendra Modi’s challenge in foreign policy will undoubtedly lie West and North of India’s borders, however the main focus of his statesmanship and vision will certainly be based on how he deals with China. Undoubtedly the biggest Foreign Policy disaster India faced was Nehru ignoring Sardar Patel and allowing China a free reign on Tibet. Though highly downplayed in the Indian media, the magnanimity of the Nehruvian blunder on Tibet is so huge that it is inevitable, that with Modi’s arrival there will soon be bitter discourse on this rusty chapter. The stance Modi takes will either elevate him to the level of Sardar Patel or more, or mark him as ordinary visionary, certainly as far as FP issues go. A further hurdle in that effort to correct past blunders, is that he will get little support from established Foreign policy mandarins schooled and regurgitated in the Nehruvian school of thought.

Image           Image

There were many lies that the Nehruvian blunders peddled our distraught generations post the traumatic independence period and one was falsely endorsing generations that China was our neighbor and not Tibet. An institutionalized lie that allowed China to brazenly link up Xinjiang through Aksai Chin, link up Pakistan and China through Kashmir without much of outrage in a country ravaged and emerging out of colonial grasp . Even though these links were brazenly through territory that rightfully belonged to us, yet these too were consequential to a bigger blunder, that of denying and cutting the umbilical cord that bound two very Dharmic souled nations together for a millenia and letting sacred Dharmic soil be over run by forces completely inimical to Dharma and its ethics. Worse, Nehru without a protest allowed them to overrun even the Holiest of Holy spots for hundreds of millions of Dharmics: Shiv Bhoomi at Kailash and Mansarover. This spot for many Dharmics is the holy abode of none other than Lord Shiva. The belief that he sits there in meditation. Almost every Dharmic in India has a picture of Shiva in meditation at Kailash-Mansarover at his or her home. Nehru passed all that to the atheistic Han Maoist guerrilla who never ever had any link to this region even by the remotest stretch. Sadly today when Dharmics want to visit the site, they have to apply for a visa to Beijing. This region happens also to host most of all major river systems that serve the Indian subcontinent and the rest of SE Asia. In abandoning our allegiance to Dharma, we also ended abandoning crucial water resources to an alien Han that with haste is working to divert these very holy resources to their mainland use at our expense.

Image             Image

Not happy being possessed of territory almost the size of India itself, China made claims all along what was essentially an unguarded border for millennia and deep into India. With a free Tibet we would have always had the same understanding we have with Bhutan or Nepal. Minimal border controls, maximum freedom and autonomy for local culture as long as pilgrimages were unhindered and minimal controls for Dharmic citizenry of both countries. With a Maoist totalitarian regime on the North and a Islamic totalitarian one on the West, Nehruvians needlessly provided physical nexus and proximity to both these countries and that too at the expense of our own troops and the blood of Dharmic kin across in the North. A large percentage of the population fled fascist jackboots including their revered leader HH Dalai Lama. The Tibetan Govt in Exile was formed in Mussoorie and now presently based in Dharmasala. They elect their PM in accordance with democratic international rules and by all ethic truly should be the legitimate recognized Governing body of Tibet.

While on coming to power it may be an almost impossible task for Modi to undo the damage which the Nehruvians and to some extent Vajpayee himself has done on the Tibetan issue, there are a few basic steps which are possible and will be suggested and analyzed in this post:

  1. Keeping discourse with China polite minus rhetoric: This is essential as what we are going to ask them will seem like asking the moon of them, but then the best and most reasonable chance we have at succeeding is asking them in the first place and doing so with a straight face and backing it up with hard reason and fact.

  2. Understanding that irrespective of China making Arunachal disputed, we can make Kailash-Mansarover, Aksai and the whole of Tibet disputed. With very valid backing of fact and international support. Simply put, there is no harm in politely making more territory on that side of the LAC disputed. We are not going to war, only making an official claim. 70 years China has harassed us with disputed areas, time we repay them with the Truth and tell them what we want too.

  3. Understanding that the original inhabitants have real claim to resources and governance in territories in accordance with International law. And the inhabitants of Tibet revere HH the Dalai Lama and would like him the Spiritual head and the Govt in Exile the rightful claimants of power in Tibet.

  4. Recognition of the Tibetan Govt in Exile as representing the legitimate and original Tibetan interests. And if disputed conducting an independently verified legitimate secret ballot poll of the Tibetan people.

  5. Understanding with the Tibetan Govt in Exile and Nepal that the first claim with China will be freeing up of the Kailash-Mansarover region. That India-Nepal-Tibet alone have Dharmic rights to manage and govern pilgrimage and resources on this holy of holiest spots. Diplomacy should obtain relevant agreements with these relevant parties and with a straight face approach China, UN, EU and every other nation that we stake a direct claim to the KM region along with the legitimate Tibetan’s authority and Nepal. We must say we are ready to talk to the Han and work on a framework of withdrawal from this region. It is obvious they will not retreat. But making the point and marking the area as disputed is winning more than half the battle.

  6. Put as official policy India’s stance that the people of Tibet must decide their future. Simply put a plebiscite to determine whether North Tibet wants to be a part of China or Independent must be Official Indian policy. We continue to be polite and do business but must not hesitate to state so and that we recognize the Tibetan Govt in Exile as the Official representation of the Tibetan people.

  7. Agreement with the Tibetan Govt in Exile, that in future to protect Tibet, it’s culture, it’s resources, India will follow a similar process / equation as with Bhutan/ Nepal. That Tibet will not allow it’s soil to be used ever again against India. If need be it must primarily allow India to supplement military logistics needed for it’s protection and not USA, Japan or EU.

  8. Agreements drawn with EU, Japan, USA, Canada, SE Asian countries that India will do all the above and that they must support India within a stipulated period. India though must have the mental strength to stand up alone if need be on these issues and external support be considered a bonus. However the fact is if India goes the hog on Tibet most of these nations will openly come out in support of Tibet.

  9.           The First Head of State Modi should officially meet must be the Tibetan PM of the Govt in Exile Mr Lobsang Sangay along with HH The Dalai Lama.This will be the finest Foreign Policy message that Modi can send to not just China  but to the world. 

Fa Hseins account of travel through Tibet clearly indicates India’s ancient Dharmic link that too in the Lop Nor region. No Han presence.

None of these changes requires a war to be fought, trade to be cut, ties to be broken. All must be done with a straight face and the conviction that only Truth and the soul of this country delivers. Meeting the PM in Exile along with HH The Dalai Lama on his first official meeting is an important step in consolidating his faith in international law and countries that want to chart a goal in consonance with India’s own value systems. The charter for the Tibetan Govt in Exile is very much in synchronicity not just to International norms but also with the Indian constitution and as follows:

 To provide to all Tibetans equality before the law and enjoyment of rights and freedom without discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, race, language and social origin. among the three organs of the government: judiciary, legislature and executive.

Even starting with simple instructions to refer to our Northern borders as Indo-Tibetan and not Indo-Chinese given to our diplomats and press will have an effect in nullifying the negativity of the  Nehruvian discourse on Tibet. Meeting up wtih HH DL like Modi meets up Shankaracharya’s, Sikh or Jain Gurus and leaders must be par for the course. These are not difficult to implement and will go a long way giving India reach and leverage in dealing with China with it’s interests in mind. It is important PM Narendra Modi takes the correct steps even if in limited measures towards the Tibetan issue, as every major blunder including wrt Pakstan, Kashmir stemmed from the blunders in Tibet. Modi also must keep the powder keg dry and meet up with top commanders and be briefed on all available security measures and threats. Importantly Modi must never cower down to the Chinese on the Tibetan front. The Chinese will back up when Dharma exerts.



Freedom of Speech and the Right to Offend

Both Freedom of Speech and the Right to Offend must ideally be sacrosanct. Usually when Constitutions provide for Freedom of Speech, it exempts those that yell ‘Fire’ in theaters or resort to slander which is understood as false attribution that can cause damage to ones reputation. So while Freedom of Speech should have such limitations, it must be understood that TRUTH must be the underlying ethos on which ‘abuse’, slander or yelling FIRE in a theater is disallowed. So if there is a fire in a theater it is perfectly alright to yell Fire. But for the heck of it, yelling fire, or snake in a crowded room may result in stampede and death and sense dictates that cannot be allowed. Similarly if the slander is falsehood it is understood to be slander. If one tells the truth about a person X or organization Y or religion Z or prophet K, however much may be the offense caused, it cannot be slander if the information provided on X, Y, Z or K is based on truth and put forward in a non abusive manner meant to further the cause of truth. Thus hurt caused in the process of telling Truth must not ideally be put to State censorship. The only restriction for restricting putting Truth about X,Y,Z, K in public domain thus would be issues of national security e.g, military movements, assets, troop locations. deployments etc or possible uncontrollable law and order situations.

Coming to the Indian context, let us see where censorship in India started post independence. It started via a critique of Nehruvian policy by Romesh Thapar in his weekly the ‘Cross Roads’. It was banned by the Madras High court for publishing views critical of Nehruvian policy. It led to the landmark judgement in May 1950 in the case ‘Romesh Thapar vs State of Madras’. The Nehru Government eventually made the Amendment to 19(1)(a) to the Constitution against “abuse of freedom of speech and expression”.

In India, a particular brand of individuals that claim to be liberal have managed to hijack the discourse on Free Speech and link it with Offense and Hurt. This is the worst sacrilege one can deliver to both Truth and it’s fundamental vehicle of delivery: Freedom of Speech. The basic idea of Freedom of Speech is not the act for the sake of itself, but the act is a sacrosanct vehicle for the upholding and dissemination of Truth. If we uphold Hurt/ Offense as criteria of  ‘abuse’ to curb Freedom of Speech, we may as well not have Freedom of Speech. And that is where the discourse in India has shifted since the Nehru era.

Truth may hurt one mentally as much as an antiseptic balm may hurt on a wound and thus the saying ‘Truth Hurts’ is not necessarily such a cliche. A society that endeavors to consist of an enlightened citizenship will always put Truth central to its constitutional preamble. Our constitutional visionaries took vision from an age old Dharmic saying ‘Satyameva Jayate’ and enshrined it in our Constitution. Yet we have been only paying lip service to the underlying importance this has towards developing an enlightened, civilized and developed society. We have been steadily contorting ‘abuse’ to imply ‘offense’ and ‘hurt’ irrespective whether the hurt or offense is caused by Truth or untruth.


Those who believe Free Speech should be curtailed because X,Y,Z or K is hurt or offended cause the maximum damage to the propagation of Truth and removal of Falsehood in Society. A large number of intellectuals in India that call themselves ‘Secular, left leaning and liberal’ ascribe openly to the fundamental that hurt or offense is enough cause for banning, revoking, jailing, exiling, banishing etc. All these have happened with many ample examples over the last 70 years or so since independence particularly with respect to minority sentiments. Yet whenever Dharmic voices exposed falsehood against their Dharmic Gods, Dharmic books, Dharmic texts that was met by a fiery reaction from this ‘left, liberal, secular’ spectrum.

Sita Ram Goel, Ram Swarup, Tasleema Nasreen, Salman Rushdie and plethora of writers, novelists faced the wrath of the ‘liberal, secular’ elite. And indeed they held sway and still hold sway on the discourse that being ‘offended’ and ‘hurt’ on being exposed to Truth is equal to ‘Abuse’ of Freedom of Speech and thus a violation of Freedom of Speech. Nothing could be further from the Truth. It is this travesty from this ‘secular, liberal’ lobby that puts into jeopardy the entire edifice of why we hold and should hold Freedom of Speech as sacrosanct.

Let us look at this Table below which bases itself on the axiom: Freedom of Speech = Right to uphold, propagate and disseminate the Truth, even if hurt or offense is caused.


Clearly one see’s that when security implications are law and order based a judgement call is required. But it must never be said in such a case that Freedom of Speech has been ‘abused’. The abuse of Freedom of Speech in banning say X Cartoons or Y books lies in banning Truth and succumbing to law and order blackmail. When Pseudo liberals justify twisting blackmail under a law and order implication as justification for Art 19 (1) (A), it is an abuse of the most basic fundamental for upholding Freedom of Speech. So thus when a judgement call is made to restrict a book, author, speech not because its false and offensive but it’s true and offensive and may have law and order implications, the constitution must call for the Govt to openly acknowledge it’s inability to uphold FOS and say the restriction is based solely on a Call of Judgement and not Abuse of Freedom of Speech. This clarity must be understood and implemented even if we cannot uphold Freedom of speech in many cases. Else we run the risk of blasphemy laws being implemented upon us, movies, books, literature except the very inane and banal being eliminated amongst us. A focused discourse on the right to offend must be linked to freedom of speech imperatives and only be restricted either due to security implications or when the state succumbs to law and order blackmail in which case the need for larger education among people on why the right to offend is a necessity along with the provision of freedom of speech initiated. That is how we can preserve and enhance the institution of Freedom of Speech. Else by equating Offense and Hurt with ‘Abuse’ of Freedom of Speech our liberals do nothing but encourage the rowdiest elements to harass citizenship, writers, artists, directors, producers, theorists or almost the entire gamut of our free and true liberal society.


Modi as PM: Tectonic shift of Center of discourse

Narendra Modi as India’s Prime Minister will be the biggest tectonic shift of India’s Economic and Political center ever since Independence. It will splurge several notches to the right. What was considered far right on the economic scene will become commonplace center and so also what was considered far right on the political spectrum be considered the appropriate center of discourse.

When Nehru became the PM, well meaning politicians of all hues and spectra aligned with a left liberal Socialist approach to build institutions and thus subsequent policies were developed centered around that base. While there were a few parties like C. Rajgopalachari’s Swatantra Party or Sardar Patels’ own views, these were offset by Nehru’s hold on the Congress and held sway without much public discontent. With the death of Sardar Patel and subsequent elections there was not much challenge to the Left centrist model that Nehru proposed. The only opposition that Nehru nurtured was due to his superficial westernized mannerisms and approach and this gave rise to a Lohia faction that had a ‘son of soil’ persona, but whose politics and economics did not wander much off Nehru’s own chartered course. Many of them are dominant in almost every political party including the BJP or have had affiliations.

With the political spectrum frozen along those leanings, it was expected that Non alignment, closeness to the Socialist bloc, antipathy to the Capitalist West would be the center norm. Most think tanks and Institutions in the formative stages of the republics chartered their doctrines/ objectives to this reality and it became the unquestioned center of political and economic discourse in India. Sociologists, Economists, Thinkers, Statesmen, Historians all emerged from these Institutions and made their mark on the discourse in India. Many were extremely tall personalities and held sway on this discourse with much ease. Within 25 years of the Republics’ existence the social, political and economic top echelons were so deeply rooted in this Left ‘liberal’ socialist political and economic world view that nationalizing industries and implementing a hard license raj system was implemented with extreme ease and little opposition. It however had it’s limitations and hundreds of millions could barely emerge from the struggling village ecosystems. Growth rates remained subdued and even as the divide between the rich and poor nations kept increasing, the capacity to self introspect  and make the necessary shift in political and economic centers could not be reached. While protests and dissatisfaction grew, an arrogant and confident Government even suspended fundamental rights and imposed an Emergency. The leadership that fought off the Emergency was tall and rooted in our soil, but the fundamental flaw was that that they did not have the depth to change the center of political and economic discourse of the nation. That possibly required an extra tinge of vision, deeper understanding and a passion to really make more than superficial changes. The lack of that was manifest in Morarji Desai and Ch Charan Singhs’ terms at the helm of affairs. Instead of bringing the necessary change required, they made the mistake of pushing the center of discourse even more left than was the usual for the Nehruvian Dynasty.

People would not forgive this for a decade at the minimum as Indira Gandhi and subsequently Rajiv again swept into power comfortably and continued with the same center. Budgets were status quo’ist, the railway budget was more important than the national budget. Many remember how people would tune into a Philips Radio set and discuss a Rs 3 reduction in some non AC sleeper fare and a Rs 17.53 increase in the AC 2 Tier fare. In the main budget if there was drop in excise on match boxes, there would be a extra surcharge on table fans. Between the Lambretta and Vespa, the Kelvinator and Alwyn, the Ambassador and Fiat, Beltek and Weston you’d be gleaning a 5% reduction on some scooter part import, a 3.21% increase in some Auto part import. It was that trivial and yes tens of millions tuned into that discourse. Stalwarts like Pranab Mukherjee with grim or beaming faces presented these inane status quo budgets. Experts with an eye to detail would analyze how that Rs 12 reduction on the Howrah-Bombay 3 Tier class would help travelers and the sagacity of the ‘wise’ FM in balancing the losses out with a Rs 24.32 increase in the 1st AC fairs. A really forward move from the ministry would be making some change where the delivery time of a Scooter after paying up full and booking would be reduced from 7 years to 3 years.  For those who are young, this indeed was the discourse and the accepted reality.

So while Wealth tax remained at 97% and import duties in few hundreds of percent, realization emerged among the ruling elite that money could be made in this License, Subsidy raj scheme of governance. It started attracting a number of people who entered the political arena because a quick buck was not just quick, but it was big too and with dollops of intoxicating red beacons, status, power in addition to the immunity from prosecution. The nexus between the corrupt politician, the police, underground mafias began to emerge. As elections became bigger this nexus became the source of massive funding and riches. No one benefiting from this scheme of things wanted to end the License and Subsidy Raj. All the misery that socialism worshiping Indians felt was attributed to a Capitalist and Western conspiracy, till one die hard left leaning socialist politician decided that since the criminal nexus is becoming so apparent, why not fight an election on corruption. Mr VP Singh fought the first Indian general elections on an Anti Corruption plank, but ended saddling the country with Mandal and left the economy even more in ruin. Cynicism started developing and an abhorrence for the political setup slowly became widespread. It was at that juncture that many new political entities and challenges to the INC started emerging. One was the BJP. Yet that too was focused on the Temple issue and comprised largely of the Lohia’ite/ Nehruvian left socialist economic school of thought. The center of political and economic discourse just would not budge.

With the population still unable to get a leadership that would lift it out of the self imposed Nehruvian/ INC leftist economic model, it still remained in the sway of sentimentalism. A wave of sympathy following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination propelled the INC back to power. An almost retired politician with nothing much to lose was put in charge. With the economy in shambles, major borrowings to keep afloat were a given. The IMF imposed conditions that were reluctantly imposed. This was the first step at shifting the economic discourse center slightly to the right. All that was done was to reduce import gold duties, decrease wealth taxes, free up forex regulations a bit. Almost overnight gold smuggling, forex black markets started easing out. Money started making an entry into India and it’s finances started looking better than ever before. More important than the fiscal improvements was the ‘pro-reform’ lobby that emerged and kept getting bigger and more powerful, that lobby started challenging established left centric positions of experts.

With the advent of the NDA setup the center of discourse did undergo a shift, it was not tectonic. The political, strategic, and economic centers still lay near about a notch or so right of the Rao setup. The Institutions were hitting back and it was only that a few infrastructural initiatives along with the IT revolution that emerged that led to pick up in growth rates. The result was that GDP growth rates stuck at 4.5% rose to 8.4% at the end of Vaypayee’s tenure. Yet the NAC controlled UPA made sure that the Nehruvian License, subsidy raj bounced back and through massive handouts wrecked the rise back to the 4.5% mark.

This is where Narendra Modi steps in with his clarity and vision. A vision that dreams of massive infrastructural shakeups. A vision that professes faith in minimizing the Government and maximizing Governance. That of intolerance to corruption both low and high level not through some additional Lok Pal kind bureaucratic community and vendetta based punitive action, but through sensible laws and  acknowledgement of an individuals desire to acquire wealth legitimately. The faith that Shauchalaya needs to precede Devalaya. That urgency that people require good quality water and power at the minimum as soon as can be achieved. These imperatives drive Narendra Modi and he has amply demonstrated that in Gujarat where a power and water deficit state was turned around only during his tenure. That of pulverizing Planning commission doled targets of 4.5% agricultural growth with a sizzling decadal 11% growth.

guj10  guj9

To do that on an India scale however, will require a major upheaval of staid institutions and planning commissions. The shake that can awaken that lot is only a major few notches lunges to the ‘right’ shock. Modi possesses the will, aptitude and support from the people to deliver that. Once these Institutions are shaken up awake in the public domain with accountability, India cannot be the same any longer. On the political front, Modi supports the Tibetan movement and expresses sympathy to their plight. He is not averse to discussions on Art 370. He is very keen on developing the North Eastern part of India. His speeches at the Chambers of Commerce, Institutions all point to that. He lives, breathes and sleeps on development. He cannot be corrupted. He cannot be deflected in his objectives. The Institutions will have no options but to adjust to newer centers of discourse. When these adjust the old Nehruvian left socialist guard will have to go. Those sociologists, economists, historians of yore that peddled status quo will have to be replaced with a new attire and mindset rooted in delivery of fast paced development. The foreign policy satraps that have had a nice time cutting ribbons, sipping fine whiskies based at embassies abroad may still do all that but will have to deliver in trade and relations.

guj7      says it all

Once he delivers on that these fronts, it will be impossible to revert to the NAC  freebie throwing days. While the left socialist model groups encouraged clamor to be in some special category to avail of govt jobs, college admissions, the shift Modi will bring will encourage groups not to seek special rights through caste, religion etc, but avenues in their areas whereby they inculcate in the young the right skill sets to be able to be absorbed in the emerging developmental mileau. The tectonic shift is just that: When the locals stop clamoring for reservations or OBC kind of status, but demand schools, colleges, industries, services in their districts so that their youth are gainfully employed in the big shift. That will give impetus to a breed of politicians that will campaign not for doing parochial caste or religion based favors, let alone doling a bottle of rum or whisky to buy votes, but those that promise and deliver the infrastructure and tools for participation in their constituencies. If in 60 months Modi can bring that change, he would have done something that has never been done in the last 60 years. And that is exactly what Modi has been saying and conveying in his speeches and in his fierce criticism of Nehru and his ideas. This is not an opportunity to be missed.

guj 3