April 6, 2008

Indians and Chinese are no brothers yet. There is a civilisation of a difference between our democracy and their totalitarian rule.

While the world was about to acknowledge the Chinese ascension in the 21st century through its hosting of the Olympics this year, the ghost of the typical Chinese style persecution and how human rights still remain an alien concept in this supposedly 5000-year-old civilisation has stared haunting all over again. Last heard, the unofficial figures are put at a death toll of 80, while the Chinese media puts it at not more than 13!! Strangely, despite the incredible economic growth and even putting behind the First World in terms of manufacturing feat, the gap between Chinese and non-Chinese media when it comes to estimation of figures still remain very pertinent. While the world assumed that China as a country has come a long way from the days of Tiananmen Square, and while many thought that economic maturity and prosperity would somehow soften the Chinese regime with respect to human rights, the sheer threat of use of force and brutal subjugation that is coming from the Chinese regime eventually vindicates that at heart not many a thing has changed with respect to China even though the economy has raced ahead.

The problem in Tibet is not a new thing, as for decades now the people of Tibet and those in exile in India have been resenting against the Chinese rule. Since the Chinese military invasion in the Fifties, the Chinese have been systematically putting in effort to bring about a calibrated demographic transition into Tibet, by encouraging the Han Chinese to settle in Tibet. This is not something which India has ever done. Even during the height of militancy in Kashmir, the government never tried to demographically alter the contours of Kashmir. And though it took time, it has been able to make the common Kashmiri resent to various forces backing militancy today. The uprising in Tibet is proof of the fact that the level of alienation of an average Tibetan still remains all the same, something that could not be mitigated with the semblance of development that the Chinese have been claiming to bring in the whole of Tibetan autonomous region. Even when the 1139 km long Qinghai-Lhasa rail network has come up, the average Tibetan considers it as more of a medium for China to consolidate its iron grip over Tibet than as something which has been made keeping in mind the average Tibetan interest. Even more important than this is the fact that there has been a consistent effort on the part of the Chinese to systematically destroy Buddhism in Tibet. Had it not been so, things would have been far different today over there. In India there have been separatist movements but the Indian government has never tried to destroy any religious belief in its quest for winning a prolonged war. It is here where India and its pluralistic philosophy wins over the totalitarian means of China.

In fact, some of the most disgraceful examples that have been blotches on the face of Indian democracy are those totalitarian streaks of the Communist Parties of India (the ideological brothers of Chinese totalitarian regime) in places like Nandigram, where innocents had been violently suppressed by the state of West Bengal.

The Chinese totalitarianism is not restricted to Tibet only. Their view with respect to subjugation of the people of Taiwan is all the same. For decades now the people of Taiwan have been living under the constant threat of some or the other type of Chinese military invasion. In the last so many decades, Taiwan’s ascension as an economic powerhouse and being a country with one of the highest per capita incomes has happened without any Chinese help. And had it not been for the US, the average Taiwanese would have been facing the same fate as the people of Tibet are facing. Chinese totalitarianism has been ruthless and devoid of any consideration for anybody. The scenario inside mainland China is perhaps no different than that of Tibet. Exploitation of labour is still rampant and SEZs are all about earning in foreign currency at the cost of everything else. The quest for economic superiority has allowed China to even join hands with some of the biggest totalitarian leaders in Africa in lieu of oil. The fact that China has been consistently selling arms to Sudan, Chad, Somalia in lieu of oil is no secret any more. The question now is where would all of it end, and what would it achieve for China and for the world as a whole? It is time perhaps for the Chinese dictators to marry growth with humanism, and only then their growth would be any meaningful!!

In the middle of it all comes the spineless response from the Indian government not only to the Chinese hooliganism in Lhasa but also to the ambassador of India being summoned at 2 in the night by Chinese officials. The Chinese government apparently failed to realise that India is a democracy and protesting citizens are not killed ruthlessly here. Inside the country the government doesn’t have the spine to respond strongly to the dictates of the CPI(M) (though the recent comment by Chidambaram is a welcome relief); and across the border it doesn’t have the courage to retort back to the other face of emerging fascism, the Chinese dictatorial rule.

Some European nations have already threatened to boycott the Olympics in China. Though it reminds us of the 80s when half the world used to give the games a miss depending upon their alliances, the fact is that’s the best thing the western world can do to teach the right lesson to the ruthless, heartless totalitarian regime in China.

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