Monday, November 19, 2018
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The most serious cause of discord was the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese “Liberation Army” in October 1950.
On October 31, the world’s tallest statue, the Statue of Unity dedicated to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, was unveiled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.The work on the 182-metre tall statue has been completed after round the clock work by 3,400 labourers and 250 engineers at Sadhu Bet island on Narmada river in Gujarat. Sadhu Bet, located some 3.5 km away from the Narmada Dam, is linked by a 250-metre-long long bridge.
Unfortunately, for several reasons, scarce scholarly research has been done on the internal history of the Congress; the main cause is probably that a section of the party would prefer to keep history under wraps. Take the acute differences of opinion between Sardar Patel, the deputy prime minister, and “Panditji”, as Nehru was then called by Congressmen. In the last weeks of Patel’s life (he passed away on December 15, 1950), there was a deep split between the two leaders, leading to unilateral decisions for the PM, for which India had to pay the heaviest price.
The most serious cause of discord was the invasion of Tibet by the Chinese “Liberation Army” in October 1950. In the course of recent researches in Indian archives, I discovered several new facts. Not only did several senior Congress leaders, led by Patel, violently oppose Nehru’s suicidal policy, but many senior bureaucrats too did not agree with the Prime Minister’s decisions and objected to his policy of appeasement with China, which led India to lose a peaceful border.
On November 11, 1950, the deputy prime minister of India addressed a meeting organised by the Central Aryan Association to commemorate the 67th death anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati. It was to be his last speech. What did he say? The Sardar spoke of the potential dangers arising from what was happening in Tibet and Nepal, and he exhorted his countrymen: “It was incumbent on the people to rise above party squabbles and unitedly defend their newly-won freedom.” He cited the example of Gandhi and Swami Dayanand.
Sardar Patel then criticised the Chinese intervention in Tibet; he asserted that to use the “sword” against the traditionally peace-loving Tibetan people was unjustified: “No other country in the world was as peace-loving as Tibet. India did not believe, therefore, that the Chinese government would actually use force in settling the Tibetan question.” He observed that the Chinese government did not listen to India’s advice to settle the Tibetan issue peacefully: “They marched their armies into Tibet and explained this action by talking of foreign interests intriguing in Tibet against China.” The deputy prime minster added that this fear was unfounded; no outsider was interested in Tibet. The Sardar continued by saying that “nobody could say what the outcome of Chinese action would be. But the use of force ultimately created more fear and tension. It was possible that when a country got drunk with its own military strength and power, it did not think calmly over all issues.” He strongly asserted that the use of arms was wrong: “In the present state of the world, such events might easily touch off a new world war, which would mean disaster for mankind.”
Did he know that it was his last message? “Do not let cowardice cripple you. Do not run away from danger. The three year-old freedom of the country has to be fully protected. India today is surrounded by all sorts of dangers and it is for the people today to remember the teachings of the two great saints and face fearlessly all dangers.”
The deputy prime minister concluded: “In this kalyug we shall return ahimsa for ahimsa. But if anybody resorted to force against us we shall meet it with force.” He ended his speech citing Swami Dayananda: “People should also remember that Swamiji did not get a foreign education. He was the product of Indian culture. Although it was true that they in India had to borrow whatever was good and useful from other countries, it was right and proper that Indian culture was accorded its due place.” Who is ready to listen to this, even today?
Days earlier, Patel had written a “prophetic” letter to Nehru, detailing the implications for India of Tibet’s invasion. In fact, Patel used a draft done by Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the secretary-general of the ministry of external affairs and Commonwealth relations. However, Nehru decided to ignore Patel’s letter.
Witnessing the nefarious influence of K.M. Panikkar, the Indian ambassador to China, who ceaselessly defended China’s interests, Bajpai, the most seasoned Indian diplomat, had lost his cool. On October 31, in an internal note, he detailed the sequence of events which followed Tibet’s invasion and the role of Panikkar, whose attitude was compared to Sir Neville Chamberlain’s towards Hitler.
Bajpai’s anger demonstrates the frustration of many senior officers; the account starts on July 15, when the governor of Assam informed Delhi that, according to the information received by the local intelligence bureau, Chinese troops, “in unknown strength, had been moving towards Tibet from three directions.” Not only was Panikkar unable to get any confirmation, but he virtually justified Beijing’s military action by writing: “In view of frustration in regard to Formosa, the Tibetan move was not unlikely.” During the next three months, the Indian ambassador would systematically take the Chinese side.
After receiving Bajpai’s note, Patel wrote back: “I need hardly say that I have read it with a great deal of interest and profit to myself and it has resulted in a much better understanding of the points at issue and general, though serious, nature of the problem. The Chinese advance into Tibet upsets all our security calculations. … I entirely agree with you that a reconsideration of our military position and a redisposition of our forces are inescapable.”
Some more details of the seriousness of the situation filters through Inside Story of Sardar Patel: The Diary of Maniben Patel, the daughter of the Sardar. In an entry on November 2, 1950, Maniben wrote: “Rajaji and Jawaharlal had a heated altercation about the Tibet policy. Rajaji does not at all appreciate this policy. Rajaji very unhappy — Bapu (Patel) did not speak at all.”
Later in the afternoon, “Munshi complained about Tibet policy. The question concerns the whole nation — said he had written a personal letter to Panditji on Tibet.”
Later, Patel told K.M. Munshi: “Rajaji, you (Munshi), I (Patel), Baldev Singh, (C.D.) Deshmukh, Jagjivan Ram and even Sri Prakash are on one side, while Gopalaswamy, Rafi, Maulana (Azad) are on his side.” There was a vertical split in the Cabinet; and it was not only about Tibet. The situation would deteriorate further during the following weeks.
On December 12, Patel was divested on his portfolios. Nehru wrote: “In view of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s ill-health it is absolutely necessary that he should have complete rest and freedom from worry, so as to be able to recuperate as rapidly as possible. …no work should be sent to him and no references made to him in regard to the work of these ministries.”
Gopalaswami Ayyangar, from the “other side”, was allotted the ministry of states and Nehru kept the ministry of home. The Sardar was only informed after the changes were made. He was a dejected man. Three days later he passed away.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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Though China is keen to become the world leader in promotion of Buddhism, it will never happen because of the gap between the Marxist theory and repression on the ground
China is a country full of dichotomies. Take Buddhism. On one side, China promotes Buddhism; on the other hand, Beijing severely represses the Buddha dharma. On October 28, the World Buddhist Forum opened with fanfare at Putian, in Fujian Province. According to the official release, it was attended by a record number of over 1,000 Buddhist monks, scholars and representatives from 55 countries. Zong Xing, Vice President of the Buddhist Association of China (BAC) and Xiao Hong, a deputy secretary of the China Religious Culture Communication Association (CRCCA), the joint hosts, gave a press conference.
Xiao announced that the forum wanted “to carry forward the positive Buddhist cultural spirit, promote exchanges between Buddhism and other religions and make contributions to building a community with a shared future for humanity.” That sounds good. One of the themes of the meet was “Buddhism and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)”, a project dear to President Xi Jinping. A couple of weeks earlier, the Global Times had reported that a two-day symposium in Qinghai Province discussed the way Buddhism could better serve the BRI and resist separatism.
The website tibet.cn noted: “Guided by the core socialist values, the symposium aims to encourage Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to the socialist society and teach the religion to serve the construction of the BRI.” Was the Fujian Forum a great success? It does not appear so reading the rare comments which appeared in the Chinese Press. One of the problems was that Master Xuecheng, the BCA president and Abbot of Longquan Temple in Beijing, had to resign in a hurry in August.
The 52-year-old was accused to have coerced nuns into having sex, overseen illegal construction work and embezzled funds. The claims were made in a 95-page document published on July 31; it immediately went viral on Chinese social media, bringing support to China’s #MeToo movement. It is not that Xuecheng was not well-connected with the Communist Party; he was a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), but in the present days, even tigers fall (President Xi had warned the ‘tigers’ and the ‘flies’ that he would not accept corruption).
One of the BCA’s Vice Presidents was Gyaltsen Norbu, the Chinese-selected Panchen Lama. He made a timid appearance on the first day. He spoke on, “to live together in harmony through the Middle Path”, a purely religious topic; Norbu emphasised a common future for humanity and the fact that the creation of a ‘common-destiny community’ is more and more accepted the world over. He mentioned the Buddhist precepts of living in symbiosis, equality, tolerance, compassion and harmony: “We are one family living in the same house,” he said. There was no word of praise for Xi.
His presence was hardly reported by the Chinese media, probably because he did not eulogise Xi Jinping and he ‘forgot’ about the BRI in his speech. The only big shot was You Quan, director of the United Front Work Department, which looks after religious affairs for the Party’s Central Committee. He hoped that “Buddhist communities would look deeper into Buddhism values and contribute wisdom to promoting the well-being of humanity and safeguarding world peace.”
Here comes the dichotomy. While Beijing promotes Buddhism’s humanitarian precepts, it takes repressive measures against Buddhist practitioners. For the third consecutive year, the authorities banned a major Tibetan prayer festival in Larung Gar, the largest Buddhist institute in Tibet, situated in Serthar County in the Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province. The monastery had a population of 30,000 Buddhist nuns and monks before it was partially destroyed by the ‘authorities’ last year.
According to Radio Free Asia (RFA), a Chinese official announced that the Dechen Shingdrup festival would be banned this year. He cited Chinese ‘religious affairs management laws’. Further, outsiders should not be invited to Larung Gar. A source told RFA’s Tibetan Service: “The notice advised village leaders and Chinese Communist Party committee members to inform the public that they would not be allowed to enter the village for any religious events. …In past years, when it was allowed, the festival lasted for a whole week.” Human Rights Watch published a new report on the ‘Four Standards Policy’ recently introduced in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). The ‘standards’ are competence in Buddhist studies, political reliability, moral integrity capable of impressing the public and willingness to play an active role at critical moments. In other words, be good Communist Buddhists.
Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, commented: “Chinese authorities have always placed heavy constraints on religious freedom, especially in Tibetan and other minority regions, compelling Tibetan monks and nuns to be propagandists for the Communist Party takes Government intrusion in religion to abhorrent new levels.”
The new policy is a continuation of the 2005 Regulations on Religious Affairs but with more oppressive clauses. On October 25, the Global Times said that the TAR Government was encouraging Tibetan monks and nuns “to learn about the laws, a move experts hailed as using education to raise local people’s legal awareness.”
Tibet’s Department of Justice announced that “professional working teams organised by the regional department of justice taught the monks about legislation and law enforcement in the region. …Teams are composed of prestigious monks, legal professionals and officials that were dispatched to temples.” Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Tibet University in Lhasa, summarised the issue: Legal education on law enforcement was weak in Tibet “because some Buddhist practitioners consider themselves as people beyond judicial reach.”
Already in August, when Wang Yang, the CPPCC Chairman and a member of the Politburo’s Standing Committee, visited the Sera monastery near Lhasa, he mentioned the new theme of Xi Jinping’s religious campaign, “Sinicisation of the religions in China.” Wang said that more efforts should be made to integrate Tibetan Buddhism into China’s socialist society; he asked the monks “to firmly uphold the leadership of the CPC, inherit and promote patriotism and be courageous to battle all separatist elements, in order to further protect the national reunification, ethnic unity and social stability.”
Though China is keen to become the world leader in promotion of Buddhism, it will never happen because of the gap between the Marxist theory and the repression on the ground, which are incompatible.
Sunday, November 11, 2018
|The Communists 'advising' the Uyghurs in the 1950s|
Here is the link...
State-run media Xinhua, however, promotes Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region — home to many ethnic minority groups — as a ‘paradise on earth’
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) recently released a 117-page report entitled “Eradicating Ideological Viruses - China’s Campaign of Repression Against Xinjiang’s Muslims;” it gave fresh evidence of Beijing’s “mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life.”
The US based agency affirmed: “Throughout the region, the Turkic Muslim population of 13 million is subjected to forced political indoctrination, collective punishment, restrictions on movement and communications, heightened religious restrictions, and mass surveillance in violation of international human rights law.”
History of abuse
Bloomberg, citing a United Nations’ assessment, said that the Chinese authorities have detained more than one million Uighurs: “As its mosques are shuttered and travel across its borders restricted, Xinjiang - once at the intersection of ancient Silk Road trade routes - threatens to become a black hole in President Xi Jinping’s effort to build new ones.”
But the fact that the Uyghurs are badly treated by Beijing, is not new; one just needs to go through some old reports of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to understand that it has been ongoing process since the 1950s.
One such report of January 1951 states: “Muslims in Sinkiang [Xinjiang] are discontented with the Communist regime. Officially there are no restrictions on prayers, but orchestras play for dancing at evening-prayer time to distract the young, and young men enlisted as soldiers have no time to attend religious services. Gatherings of more than four people are prohibited.”
Another CIA report of September 1952 notes: “Prior to June 1952 the Chinese Communist Government in southwestern Sinkiang Province had adopted a policy of deporting all persons whose families originally migrated to Sinkiang from the area which is now West Pakistan. Deportation was preceded by confiscation of property, and the persons being deported were accompanied to the Sinkiang-Pakistan border by an armed guard.”
Today, the Chinese authorities have detained a number of Uighur women who are married to Pakistani businessmen from Gilgit-Baltistan region. It has deeply angered Pakistan, supposedly China’s all-weather friend.
In 1952, two years after the arrival of the first Chinese troops in former Eastern Turkestan, the CIA says: “all major government departments, including those of agriculture, police, secret police, magistrates, revenue, and engineering, were headed by Chinese officials and advised by Soviet officials.” The Uyghurs were not trusted and removed from all their posts; ditto today.
In March 1953, a CIA report asserts: “In the fall of 1952 no one was permitted to travel from southwestern Sinkiang …where the authorities were engaged in liquidating large numbers of people accused of having participated in the 1944 revolt against Chinese rule.”
The CIA agents reported that the fortification walls surrounding Kashgar had been torn down by forced labor: “All women in both cities were compelled to work at removing the debris resulting from the destruction. The men of Kashgar were being forced to work on the construction of roads and buildings.”
Communists take over
By the end of year, all profitable business, including the silk industry in Hotan had been taken over by the Communist authorities: “Private business was discouraged, and almost all shops had been turned into government owned cooperative stores. The salaries paid to shopkeepers were barely enough to cover their living expenses.”
And like the Communist officials would do in Tibet a couple of years later, the new government of Xinjiang told the people: “the Chinese in the administrative structure are there simply to teach the natives of Sinkiang the art of governing, and that soon the full governmental administrative responsibility would be turned over to the people of Sinkiang.”
The same report cited a long list of purges, arrests and executions.
More than 60 years later, ferocious repression and forced assimilation still takes place in the restive region; the Uyghurs face repression, reeducation and relocation.
On July 6, The People's Daily noted that Beijing has relocated “461,000 poverty-ridden residents to work in other parts of the region during the first quarter of the year,” in a bid to “improve social stability and alleviate poverty.”
The report asserted that the Xinjiang government planned to further transfer 100,000 residents from southern Hotan and Kashgar prefectures by 2019, to get employed somewhere else.
Yu Shaoxiang, an ‘expert’ at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told The Global Times: “poverty alleviation in Xinjiang is more difficult compared to other places because, aside from poverty, Xinjiang also faces ethnic issues.”
The irony is that this region is the hub the ‘humanist’ Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is to bring prosperity and happiness to the local populations.
It does not mean that China does face serious challenges, not only from infiltration from its friend in the South, but also from the Syrian-trained Uighurs returning to Xinjiang.
But can this be a pretext for such drastic policies?
On August 31, during a hearing at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), Hu Lianhe, the Chinese representative countered the claims that the Muslim minorities was being subjected to extrajudicial detention and political indoctrination. Hu denied the existence of ‘re-education camps’, asserting instead that China is ‘a victim of terrorism’, and that the Xinjiang has only initiated a “special campaign to crack down on violent terrorist activities according to law.” He however admitted to the trial and imprisonment of ‘a number of criminals’ and that people guilty of minor offenses were sent “to vocational education and employment training centers…to assist with their rehabilitation and reintegration”
In the meantime, Xinhua promotes the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, as a ‘paradise on earth’. It affirms that 130 million tourists visited the Western province during the first nine months of 2018. Can you believe it? But for sure, the Han tourists did not visit the reeducation camps.
Friday, November 9, 2018
|George Clemenceau was French PM (and War Minister) during WWI|
Bodhisattvas in his table
France has not forgotten India’s participation; Paris recently offered India a piece of land to construct the ‘Indian Military Memorial’ for Indian troops at Villers Guislain, in Northern France. The memorial comprises a bronze Asoka emblem and a plaque, honouring the Indian soldiers who died in the War.
But there is more to the relations between India and the War; read the story below and you understand the meaning of multilateralism between France and India.
A Tiger among Politicians
Whenever one thinks of the Great War, a name comes to mind, Georges Clemenceau.
Born in 1841 in Vendée, the hotbed of the monarchists during the French Revolution, Clemenceau came from a lineage of physicians. His father never really practiced, but he was attracted by political activism, following the ‘Radicals’, a Party not enamoured of Catholicism.
Though a lifelong atheist, Georges had an interest in religious matters from the early age. He joined politics as an anti-clerical, often fighting the French Catholic Church, strongly believing that that the Church and the State should strictly be kept separate.
From November 1917 to January 1920, he was the Prime Minister of France and he played the central role in the victory of the allies; he then became known as ‘Père la Victoire’ (‘Father Victory’) or ‘Le Tigre’ (‘The Tiger’), as he always favoured a total victory over the German Empire and militated for the restitution of Alsace-Lorraine to France. In 1919, he became the main architect of the Treaty of Versailles at the Paris Peace Conference.
|Clemenceau at Guimet Museum (behind the central pillar), c. 1890|
There is another aspect to George Clemenceau; he was a great humanist, thinker, traveler and lover of India and its philosophies.
Mao once said: “The philosophers have so far only interpreted the world, the point is to change it." Clemenceau first changed the world by giving Victory to the allies, while being a philosopher at the same time.
This reminds me of Sir Francis Younghusband, the British ‘imperial adventurer’. During his stay in Lhasa in 1904, he had become fond of the Ganden Tripa, the senior-most Tibetan Lama. In spite of the political difficulties and their personal backgrounds, they often sat together to discuss religion and philosophy. They developed a very close rapport. On his return to England, he became a great adherent of the philosophy of Ahimsa.
But in the case of Clemenceau, it was not a ‘sudden conversion’ as for Younghusband, he had spiritual inclinations from his early years in politics.
Already in July 1885, he gave a speech in the French Parliament: “Inferior race the Hindus? With this great refined civilization that is lost in the mists of time!” He also spoke of the Buddhist religion which later migrated from India to China, but left “this great efflorescence of art of which we still witness today the magnificent remains.”
He would always remain fond of Buddhism.
|Clemenceau sitting with Agvan Dorjiev|
the 13th Dalai Lama's emissary in Europe, in 1898
Clemenceau was involved in the creation of the Guimet Museum in Paris. He was close to Emile Guimet, a rich industrialist from Lyon and a passionate about oriental religions. He traveled all over Asia and once back in France, he decided to create "a didactic place dedicated to Buddhism, and, in general, to religions around the world.” Guimet Museum was inaugurated in Paris in 1889; later Clemenceau even attended Buddhist ceremonies organized by the museum.
On February 21, 1891, when a puja in honor of the founder of the Shinshu sect was performed by two Japanese monks, Clemenceau sat in the front row; a journalist asked the future Prime Minister: “Now, you can’t stop us going to the Mass?” Clemenceau quipped: “What to do, I am a Buddhist!”
For him, Gautam Buddha was at the top of the thinkers’ hierarchy; he is indeed "the greatest preacher of peace and fraternity that has appeared in the world". Clemenceau called him the ‘sublime monk’, who preached the love of his neighbor and this without proclaiming the existence of an almighty God. He greatly preferred Buddha to Jesus, probably due to the omnipresent Church in Catholicism at that time in France.
The Tiger also liked the fact that Buddhists did not proselytize. In 1905, he told L'Aurore, a French newspaper: “With what impatience do I wait for the day when we will see Buddhist and Shinto missionaries coming to Marseilles who will come and try to convert us!”
From 1917 to 1920, when he served as Prime Minister and War Minister, he kept several statuettes of bodhisattvas placed prominently on his desk.
|Clemenceau in Ellora, a few months after retiring as French PM (1920-21)|
But Clemenceau knew that it was not enough to read books about philosophy, he decided to immerse himself into the cultures he was studying.
Months after his retirement, at the age of 80, he embarked on a long journey to Egypt, Sudan, Ceylon, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Burma and finally India.
As soon as he arrived in Calcutta on December 5, 1920, he fell extremely sick; worried doctors advised his immediate repatriation to France.
The Tiger was not going to listen to the orders of the doctors: “Whether I die in Calcutta or in Paris, on a Wednesday or a Saturday, it does not matter, but you would not want me to come to India’s door and then return to France without having visited India. Either I will die or I will visit India!”
He recovered and went on a long journey in India starting by Benares.
He often wrote to his friend, the great impressionist Claude Monet: "I have come to Benares to take the most prodigious bath of light ... A large clear blue river, with an imposing curve of white palaces, which fades in the powder of dawn.” He tried to attract his friend to India: “if my name was Claude Monet, I would not like to die without having seen Benares.” He wrote about “a humanity crazy with expressive colors” which animates India: “I do not want to go to heaven if Benares is not there,” he asserted, adding that even: “the incomprehensible cult of these sacred cows, coming in the morning to eat the flower malas with which I was garlanded,” finds an explanation.
Clemenceau was very fond of Asoka, the King who renounced violence, he wrote: “The reign of the great Asoka is one of the purest human glories,” an antithesis of what Father Victory had been known for during the Great War.
|Clemenceau in Elora (1920-21)|
On his return from India, Clemenceau worked on his philosophical testament Le Soir de la Pensée, which shows not only his great erudition, but also his deep understanding of India’s philosophical thought.
Several chapters mention India; one is entirely consecrated to The Philosophies of India. Clemenceau admitted having experienced a ‘delicious joy’ in discovering the Ramayana, the Vedas and the Buddhist scriptures.
He acknowledged that he had grasped only the superficial aspects of the Indian Thought: "I do not know by what excess of daring I try to summarize aspects and developments of the Hindu thought in a few lines. [But] this subject holds me and leads me.”
Elsewhere he says: “By her Vedic hymns and her great poems, we find unexpected resemblances to Greece. …The genial feature is that it does not formally reject any affirmation which could bring some doubt to the proclaimed belief.” He continued: “The cosmogonies of India cannot be counted. All contradictions accumulate, without ever losing confidence, always ready to assimilate everything.”
Hundred years after the Armistice, this aspect of Father Victory should be remembered, though his philosophical views never interfered in his political decisions as one of the main actors of the Great War.
(I am grateful to my colleague Christine Devin for her numerous inputs in this story)
Tuesday, November 6, 2018
For what? Nobody is sure now.
The French daily Le Figaro explains the dichotomy: “Commemorate means making choices.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has decided to go for a week-long ‘memorial and territorial journey’ through the different sites of the Great War. For the French, the numerous functions are more than a celebration of a victory; there is a triple message in the event: one, to remember the ‘poilus’ (‘the unshaven ones’) as the French soldiers were known during the War; then to celebrate the capacity of the French nation to rebuilt itself and finally, and perhaps most importantly, to promote a ‘recast multilateralism’.
The presence in Paris on November 11 of the representatives of all those who participated in the War, including Germany, demonstrates this choice.
At the same time, France has not forgotten India’s participation; Paris recently offered a piece of land to construct the ‘Indian Military Memorial’ for Indian troops at Villers Guislain, in Northern France. The memorial comprises a bronze Ashoka emblem and a plaque, honouring the Indian soldiers who died in the War.
Some 130,000 Indian troops, including Sikhs and Gorkhas, fought in France and Belgium during the bloody conflict during which more than 9 million people died; a quarter of the Indian contingent never returned to their native provinces; during the battle of Neuve-Chapelle in France in March 1915, the Sikhs regiments lost 80% of their men.
Some of the French battlefields where Indian soldiers showed their bravery and dedication to a cause which was not theirs, are today part of the History of France.
A few years ago, David Omissi, a military historian wrote Indian Voices of the Great War: Soldier’s Letters, 1914-18; this edited collection of letters sent by Indian soldiers to their family in India is deeply touching.
Jawans of the 9 Bhopal Infantry, 15 Ludhiana Sikhs, 47 Sikhs, 57 Frontier Force, 58 Frontier Force, 59 Frontier Force, 89 Punjabis, 107 Pioneers, to quote a few, valiantly fought for a country that they did not know; they could not even speak the language.
For these Indian soldiers, it was their first trip to Europe (and for many, their last as they ended being buried on the front). As he arrived in France, an Indian soldier wrote to his family: “What is Paris? It is heaven!” He soon discovered that the trenches were Hell.
Another bewildered jawan described London: “in the train that goes under the earth … a strange and wonderful experience — they call it the underground.” Nobody had even heard of a ‘Tube’ in his native Punjab.
Already on October 7, 1927 France officially acknowledged India’s participation in the World War and expressed its deep gratitude; a memorial in Neuve-Chapelle was inaugurated by Marshal Ferdinand Foch, Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies who paid a vibrant homage to the Indian soldiers.
France and Britain had decided to express their deepest appreciation for the role of Indian soldiers, though it is not clear for which cause they fought so bravely. This is often the case in wars and a century later, the reasons for the conflict become more blurred.
Isn’t it a lesson of international relations: today the Germans and the French are great friends trying to build Europe together?
It is undoubtedly better that way.
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
In kalyug we shall return ahimsa for ahimsa, but if anybody resort to force against us we shall meet it with force
On November 11, 1950, the Deputy Prime Minister of India addressed a meeting organized by the Central Aryan Association to commemorate the 67th death anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati.
This raises a serious question: very little research has been done on the last weeks of Patel's life.
It is highly regrettable.
One of the problems is that all historical documents of this period remains classified in the MEA.
Why should the Modi Government follow a Congress policy is difficult to comprehend.
The Sardar passed away on December 15, two days after being 'shifted' to Mumbai (because 'Delhi was too cold').
What do we know about the last one month of Patel's life?
Practically nothing, except that he opposed Nehru's policy on Tibet.
His prophetic letter on Tibet written on November 7 raises further questions.
A note sent to Bajpai shows that Patel had got his information from the General Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs (Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai), who was getting regular information from Sumul Sinha, the Head of the Indian Mission in Lhasa.
Another unanswered question: did Nehru acknowledge Patel's 'prophetic' letter addressed which raised number of serious security issues for India.
Did Nehru inform Patel about his decision in early November, to radically change India's Tibet policy, as reflected in Nehru's note addressed to B.N. Rau, the Indian Representative to the UN on November 18.
Patel, by the end of November, was a dejected man and he fell sick.On December 13, after he had been 'shifted' to Mumbai, Patel was divested of all his portfolios by the Prime Minister, he was not even informed.
He was deeply hurt and he passed away 2 days later.
On that day, ministers were told to continue their business as usual.
Here is a report of his last speech.
Sardar Patel Exhorts people to stand unitedly to see conditions in Tibet and Nepal and defend their country
The Hindustan Times, 11 November 1950
"In this kalyug we shall return ahimsa for ahimsa. But if anybody resorted to force against us we shall meet it with force."
Sardar Patel said in Delhi that the present or potential dangers arising from what was happening in Tibet and Nepal made it incumbent on the people to rise above party squabbles and unitedly defend their newly-won freedom. The path shown by Mahatma Gandhi and Swami Dayanand, he added, would help the people to tide over these none too easy times.
Sardar Patel was addressing a meeting organized by the Central Aryan Association to commemorate the 67th death anniversary of Swami Dayanand Saraswati, social reformer and thinker.
Referring to the recent developments in Nepal, Sardar Patel said: "In this country, our near neighbour, the Raja has sought sanctuary in the Indian Embassy. How could we refuse to give him refuge? We had to give it.
Those who are wielding real power today in Nepal do not accept the Raja as the head of the State. They have installed the Raja's three-year-old grandson on the gaddi. They want us to accept this position. How can we do so?"
Sardar Patel emphasized that the 'internal feud' in Nepal had laid India's frontiers in the north wide open to outside dangers. It was imperative, therefore, for Indians to be well prepared to meet any challenge that might come from any quarter.
Sardar Patel criticized Chinese intervention in Tibet and said that to use the `sword' against the traditionally peace-loving Tibetan people was unjustified. No other country in the world was as peace-loving as Tibet. India did not believe, therefore, that the Chinese Government would actually use force in settling the Tibetan question.
"The Chinese Government," he said, "did not follow India's advice to settle the Tibetan issue peacefully. They marched their armies into Tibet and explained this action by talking of foreign interests intriguing in Tibet against China. But this fear is unfounded: no outsider is interested in Tibet. India made this very plain to the Chinese Government. If the Chinese Government had taken India's advice, resort to arms would have been avoided."
Continuing, Sardar Patel said that nobody could say what the outcome of Chinese action would be. But the use of force ultimately created more fear and tension. It was possible that when a country got drunk with its own military strength and power, it did not think calmly over all issues.
But use of arms was wrong. In the present state of the world, such events might easily touch off a new world war, which would mean disaster for mankind.
In these difficult times, Sardar Patel said, the duty of the Indian people lay not in fleeing from trouble but facing it boldly. That was the real message of both Swami Dayanand and Mahatma Gandhi. "Do not let cowardice cripple you. Do not run away from danger. The three-year-old freedom of the country has to be fully protected. India today is surrounded by all sorts of dangers and it is for the people today to remember the teachings of the two great saints and face fearlessly all dangers."
The Deputy Prime Minister continuing declared: "In this kalyug we shall return ahimsa for ahimsa. But if anybody resorted to force against us we shall meet it with force." Sardar Patel said that Swami Dayanand was one of the two great saints Gujarat gave to the world. Although Swami Dayanand and Mahatma Gandhi were born in Gujarat, they had dedicated their lives to the service of mankind. Ultimately they belonged to not only the whole of India but the world. It was for the people now to understand the teachings of these two saints and follow them in their actual lives.
The greatest contribution of Swami Dayanand, he said, was that he saved the country from falling deeper into the morass of helplessness. He actually laid the foundations of India's freedom. A movement against untouchability, later to be supported by Gandhiji, was launched, and reconversion to Hinduism of the already forcibly converted persons was started. Swami Dayanand put a complete stop to the tendency in those days of preaching adharma in the name of dharma, which had made the Hindu Dharma the laughing stock of the world. ,
"Swami Dayanand wiped off," he said, "the dirt and grime that had settled on the Hindu Dharma. He swept aside the cloud of superstition shrouding it and let in light."
In the Indian Constitution untouchability had been declared a crime and Hindi accepted as the national language. It was actually Swami Dayanand, Sardar Patel said, who first propagated that Hindi be made the national language.
People should also remember that Swamiji did not get foreign education. He was the product of the Indian culture. Although it was true that they in India had to borrow whatever was good and useful from other countries, it was right and proper that Indian culture was accorded its due place.
Tuesday, October 30, 2018
Rinpoche was 69. His family members were reported to be with him.
Gyari Rinpoche was born in 1949 in Nyarong in eastern Tibet, where he received a traditional monastic education as the tulku of Khenchen Jampal Dewe Nyima from Lumorap Monastery.
In 1959, he fled with his family to India.
In 1970, Rinpoche had been one of the founding members of the Tibetan Youth Congress.
In 1982 and 1984, he was a junior member of the delegation which went to China to 'negotiate'.
See my book, Dharamsala and Beijing: the Negotiations that never were.
From 2002 to 2009, he conducted the talks with China as the Dalai Lama's Special Enjoy.
I am posting today a twelve-year old interview with Lodi Gyari Rinpoche.
It appeared on April 20, 2006 in Rediff.com under the title Why China will change: The Tibet factor
Here is the link...
A few days before his departure for Beijing for the fifth round of talks with the People's Republic of China, the Dalai Lama's chief negotiator and Special Envoy in Washington, DC Lodi Gyari Rinpoche spoke to Claude Arpi.
Examining the dynamics of the 'dialogue process' with China, he shared his frustrations and hopes for the future. He also explained how difficult it has been for the Dalai Lama to abandon his claim for independence and to accept that Tibet becomes a 'genuinely autonomous' part of the People's Republic.
He also examined an interesting factor which may play a role in finding a solution to the Tibetan tangle: The revival of Buddhism in China.
What can you tell us about the negotiations that you are conducting with China?
The Tibetan movement is a very unique movement. This can be seen from the way we are conducting the negotiations with the People's Republic of China. We are doing it in a different way. If one day, His Holiness the Dalai Lama's' efforts succeed, it will not only have an impact on the six million Tibetans, but it will also be a breakthrough for humanity, because of the nature of our negotiations.
Even for someone like me, engaged in the negotiations, I see it more as a spiritual practice than an exercise in diplomacy. Let me explain this. I remember very vividly that in 1987, when His Holiness first presented the 'Middle Way approach' in a formal document, he consulted a few people outside of the Tibetan leadership.
One of them was former (US) President (Jimmy) Carter. His Holiness has a lot of respect for President Carter, not because he had been the US president, but because His Holiness believes he is very wise and religious minded (in fact he became closer to us after he left the White House). So I flew directly from New Delhi to New York to Minneapolis, where President Carter was staying at that time, to show him an 8-page document, which later became the 'Strasbourg Proposal'.
He really took time to read it through (he is famous for that) and took nearly one hour to study it very carefully. Then he turned to me and asked: "What is His Holiness' bottom line?" I told him: "This is the bottom line." He was surprised: "If this is the bottom line, you have to start from somewhere else."
I responded to President Carter saying this issue was raised, but His Holiness' position is that he is not a politician and that he was a simple monk who wants to be really sincere and transparent and place on the table what he really wants.
It is because of such a nature of our negotiations position that I feel our success, when it happens, will be a major breakthrough in the art of negotiation.
Was it difficult for the Dalai Lama?
It has been extremely difficult for His Holiness. When he chose 'the Middle Way' path, there were tremendous protests from his own people. This strong opposition came from people who were ready to give their lives for the cause. And as someone who served His Holiness very closely and has been intimately involved in the process, I can tell you, it was very painful. It was certainly a difficult thing for those of us who had the honour to be associated with him. But it was even more difficult for His Holiness to take such a decision.
He showed that he was a real leader, because a real leader has sometimes to take unpopular decisions. He showed that he had the courage to take difficult decisions. I always share this with my Chinese colleagues to give them an idea of the extent His Holiness has gone to work for a mutually satisfactory solution.
I would like to mention a personal experience. My mother was one of the first women to take on the fight against the Chinese. She was quite well known. Though she was a very gentle woman, she never hesitated to fight the Chinese.
When I accompanied His Holiness to Strasbourg to present the Proposal, she was deeply upset with me. Until His Holiness' presentation of his proposal to the European Parliament, I would keep this document under my pillow because it was extremely confidential.
When I returned from Strasbourg, the first thing my mother told me: "If I had known that the documents that you were so preciously guarding were this Proposal, I would have ripped it apart."
This is just to give you an idea about the mindset of the Tibetan people when they first heard of the Proposal. This shows how difficult the process has been.
Tell us more about your involvement in this dialogue.
My first trip to China was in 1982, when I was chairman of the Tibetan parliament. I was part of the high level exploratory delegation sent by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When we first landed in China, the Chinese officials came forward to greet us. For a moment, I did not know what to do: if I shake hand with them, it would a betrayal of the thousands Tibetans as well as my family members.
At that moment, I had a flashback of my grandmother and my brothers who died under indescribable circumstances. I thought that if I shake hands, I would betray all those Tibetan who died. Many Tibetans had a similar experience.
Despite all this, we are today engaging the Chinese because we believe that it is the best solution. From this angle also you can see how important the dialogue process is. This is certainly not just diplomacy. It is the background of our dialogue with China.
How would you describe the negotiations?
Usually some kind of glamour is associated with negotiations of this nature, but in our case, it is not like this. There is a real human approach. That is why I believe that the impact of this type of dialogue goes far beyond the Tibetan people and the Tibetan plateau.
Further, if these efforts of His Holiness bear some fruits, it can bring about some fundamental shift in China. You may think it is too ambitious, but if it sincerely done, it is possible though it is difficult. From this point of view also it is very important that our process succeed.
Does anybody else in the world show interest in the Sino-Tibetan dialogue?
Lately, there is a renewed concern about China, especially in Washington, DC. There was a time when there was so much enthusiasm about China: it was considered as the most important country to be courted. It was the biggest market that ever existed. China could get away with everything. But things have changed.
If the Middle East developments had not happened, it would have come even earlier, but there is today a great concern about China; some people even see China as a threat.
I tell my American friends: "Well your concern is real, but You can not solve anything through confrontation or by using force. You should make China more friendly and less isolated."
That is why I think that with the positive attitude of His Holiness, the Tibetan issue can be a tremendously positive factor for the future of China. I do not say this in an idealist way, but am being very practical.
Can you give us some examples?
Zhao Ziyang, the former Chinese premier, died recently after spending many years under house arrest. When he was critically ill, we received a message from one of his sons: 'My father is very ill, can you ask His Holiness to pray for him?' We assumed that this request came because the son was interested in Buddhism. I passed the request to His Holiness who prayed for him. Then after the death of Zhao Ziyang came a communication from all his children thanking His Holiness for praying for their father.
But what surprised me most is when we were informed that virtually the last word of Zhao Ziyang was the name of His Holiness. We are talking about a person who reached the highest level of the Chinese hierarchy (general secretary of the Communist party and premier).
This illustrates the extent of reverence for His Holiness even in China today. There are many other instances.
I do not believe that it is too far-fetched to think that the Tibetan issue can have a profound impact on tomorrow's China. This sentiment is shared by many Chinese. I see this through my contacts not only with the Chinese government, but with Chinese of all shades.
I am surprised and encouraged to come across Chinese in the government, in the Communist party, but also this new class of rich Chinese entrepreneurs who believe that what China really needs is the presence of His Holiness.
Are you trying to negotiate the future of the Tibetan people?
If you look at the Tibetan plateau, you see that Tibet is the giver of life: all the major (Asian) rivers have their sources in Tibet. Perhaps in a few years time, definitely in 50 years time, people will be fighting wars over water.
Recently, I dined with some senior Indian officials. I was telling them that it was very smart of them to invite the Saudi king as chief guest for the Indian Republic Day. They said their prime minister made a special exception and went to receive the king at the airport. I said: "Yes, after all, he is the custodian of the most holy shrine for the Muslims." They said: "Yes, he is also the custodian of oil."
Unfortunately, the time will come when there will be a scarcity of what we today take for granted, particularly resources like water. You do not need to be a prophet to know that there will be shortage of water in 50 years time. Just with that consideration alone, imagine how important the plateau of Tibet is.
You know that former Chinese premier Zhu Rongji took the wise decision to stop the deforestation in Tibet. He took the decision not because he cared for the environment, certainly not for the sake of the Tibetans, but he realized that the floods in China were due to the deforestation in Tibet, which was not natural ones, but man-made.
For many decades, the Chinese authorities had not cared for the Tibetan plateau, thinking that whatever they can take from Tibet will only benefit them. But at the end the people of China began to suffer much more than the Tibetans.
So you can see that the whole issue of Tibet is larger than the interest of Tibet and the Tibetan people, and has wider ramifications.
What about India?
In terms of geopolitics, it is very encouraging that there is today much more trade relations between India and China. It is not the Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai relation, which was very unfortunate, but a much more rational relation. But then, it would be an illusion if anyone in South Block (the Delhi area where India's ministry of external affairs is located) feels that there could be a real progress in the relations with China without solving the problem of Tibet. It would be very naïve.
For centuries, Tibet acted as a buffer between these two great Asian civilisations. Now we can become a bridge. A buffer was important during the 19th and the 20th century to bring a certain amount of stability: It was like a wall separating empires during what is known as 'the Great Game.'
Today we do not need a buffer, but a bridge. Tibet could play that unique role, to be the bridge. This could help find a lasting and genuine solution. A solution in which the Tibetan issue would not be considered would not be lasting.
A genuine and lasting solution will be in the interests of these two great Asian nations. No one else than Tibet can help to bridge the difference between India and China. Though we are very much part of the Indian civilization, many people feel the Tibetan language must be similar to Chinese language, just because of the fact that Tibet is under China. Similarly, they believe that the Tibetan culture or civilisation is similar to the Chinese.
I have to explain that our link is much deeper with the Indian civilisation. His Holiness describes the link between the Tibetan and Indian civilisations as a filial link. Many aspects of the Indian civilisation have been kept intact in Tibet.
His Holiness jokes and says that the Indian civilisation has been put in a deep freezer on the Tibetan plateau. One of the good things out of our misfortune is that many texts, the ancient wisdom of India, has been preserved in Tibet.
Today scholars in Sarnath are retranslating these texts into Sanskrit or Pali. But by circumstances, we are politically and otherwise very much part of the Chinese political orbit. This fact is also a positive factor.
What is the status of your negotiations today?
The first round of negotiations dates from 1982, when the first Tibetan high level exploratory delegates went to China. More recently, I went thrice to China after 2002 and we had a fourth round of talks in Geneva in January 2005. Soon, I will go back to China to conduct the 5th round of talks.
It is a very slow process; it is going to take a long time, before we can make substantial progress. I always tell my Tibetan friends: "Don't be in a hurry and don't ask me to hurry." We should not allow ourselves to be forced into an agreement too quickly. After all, we have already waited very long.
His Holiness is in good health; we have time. We are committed and optimistic and we will continue very slowly.
Are you optimistic about the outcome of the talks?
Yes, I am hopeful, because if I had lost hope, I would have no business to conduct these talks. If I did not believe in this process, it would be immoral for me to continue to lead this team. I do it as my spiritual practice.
His Holiness is not only my political leader, but also my guru. If I had any doubt in my heart, my job would be to go to His Holiness and tell him: "Your Holiness, please take me out of this business because I do not believe in it."
Monday, October 29, 2018
|'Happy' relocated Tibetans in their new home|
Li Keqiang’s visit
Remember Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Southern Tibet on July 25. The Premier went directly to Nyingchi (Nyingtri in Tibetan) Prefecture (now City) bordering Arunachal Pradesh.
He visited a village (Shiga village?) in Mainling County; it is a new village inhabited by Monpas.
Why Monpas in this area?
According to a press release, the inhabitants of this ‘Monpa’ village have been relocated from 'impoverished areas'.
The ‘impoverished’ region is the wealthy Metok County.
The Chinese Premier asked a ‘relocated’ villager: “What is the main source of income? How much could you make in a year? What about your health care and children’s education? What kind of difficulties do you still have now?”
Kunsang, one of the villagers, told Li that his family moved from Metok County, where ‘road travel is fairly difficult’.
This is rather surprising considering that after a tunnel was opened in 2013, the area is doing rather well, thanks to the tea plantation and large income brought by tourism; at the same time, the Chinese propaganda kept insisting that Metok, after the arrival of the all-weather road (via the tunnel), is doing well.
Better communications, are the positive ‘changes’ often mentioned for Metok.
Kunsang explained to the Premier that his family has now an income of 150,000 yuan a year (US $ 2,400), thanks to farming and tourism. Further, the State “ensured health care service and children’s education program.” There are a total of 72 households in the new ‘relocated’ village and 90% of families have similar income. Li affirmed that he was really pleased “to see that the villagers have cast off poverty, though the relocation program and lived a prosperous life.”
It is difficult to understand why this family was shifted from Metok to Mainling County. The only reason can be: the Party wants only ‘safe’ Tibetans on the borders with India.
|Received by the border forces|
A few days ago, another article appeared in the French edition of China Tibet Online, it was titled: “Relocation of the villagers of Lhodrak: mission over”
It affirmed “After a first wave of successful relocation on October 15, a second wave is now over.”
Lhodrak, the legendary birthplace of Marpa the Translator is located north of the Bhutanese border.
An explanation is given with several telling pictures: “The villagers' relocation project represents the completion of scheme which is part of the strategy of the CPP’s Central Committee's for strengthening of the border. It is also a good example to illustrate that ‘the Party carries the people in its heart’, it provides a housing solution to families in need, and a strengthening of the masses on the borders and a strengthening of the border defence.”
Tibetan ‘uniforms’ are clearly provided for the photo op.
On October 19, The China Daily published another article on “Relocation raises living standards for Lhopas”.
Lhopa or Lhobas, according to Wikipedia is “any of a diverse amalgamation of Sino-Tibetan-speaking tribes living in and around Pemako, a region in southeastern Tibet.” It included Metok and Zayul counties in Nyingchi Prefecture and Lhuntse County in Lhoka (also known as Shannan). The Chinese government officially recognizes Lhoba as one of the 56 ethnic minorities in China.
The article affirmed: “The lives of members of the Lhoba ethnic group in the Tibet Autonomous Region have improved markedly in recent decades, thanks to the reform and opening-up policy that was launched 40 years ago.”
What were these reforms?
It is explained that until about 50 years ago, the Lhobas were savage, they lived in the forest as hunters: “Now, about 3,000 Lhobas live in Tibet, in sparse communities such as the group in Mainling county.”
A Lhoba named Dawa was interviewed by the newspaper: "As hunters on the mountain, we lived in simple wooden sheds and our diet mainly consisted of meat from animals we hunted, corn we grew, and a few edible wild herbs. People often suffered from hunger, and they were forced to exchange bears' gallbladders and the skins of the animals they hunted for daily necessities such as grain, salt, tea leaves and clothes.”
But in 1985, a first group of 18 households, totaling 80 people including Dawa, were relocated from remote mountain and forest areas to Tsedro, a village where they were given houses, fields and livestock. Since then, the number of households has risen to 41, with more than 190 people.
This was probably one of the first cases of ‘relocation’.
But today’s relocation is done more systematically way and on a much larger scale.
On October 19, China Tibet News reported that since the beginning of 2018, Tsona County, near of Tawang District of Arunachal Pradesh has been “vigorously promoting the construction of border well-off villages.”
We are told that Tsona County has invested 519 million yuan in the construction projects of 9 border well-off villages which can benefit 1961 people of 617 households. Some 42.3% of the total project quantity has been completed, and an investment of 2.2 billion yuan has been spent.
In May, China Tibet News said that Lepo Valley, the first village in Tibet, north of the Tawang district, boasted of a rich vegetation and clear waters: “With impressive natural scenery and unique ethnic customs, Magmang ecological civilization village is also situated in Lepo Valley, Tsona County. …The construction of Magmang ecological civilization demonstration village began on March of 2014 and was completed on December. On January of 2015, this village was put into operation. In 2016, Magmang village was awarded the name "China's beautiful leisure village’ by China's Ministry of Agriculture.”
China has 26 national key tourist attractions; Lepo Valley is on the list.
A new scheme is now implemented, "Slowing down the speed of tour, enjoying the sea of azaleas in Lepo Valley", it prolonged the peak season said the authorities.
Dekyi Tsomo, a 27-year-old villager of Magmang, told the journalist: "Previously, houses in the village looked fairly rundown, and all roads leading to the village are muddy. Nowadays, the houses we live in are comfortable and big, with underfloor heating and hot water supply. This kind of house costs more than 400,000 yuan. We only pay 120,000 yuan, the other is paid by the government. Facilities in family inns are provided by the government, for which we all feel grateful.”
The Chinese website concludes: “Magmang village persists in following the notion that lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, focusing on the ecological conservation and promoting ecotourism.”
Incidentally on March 30, 1959, the Dalai Lama spent his last night in Tibet in Magmang; he was on his way to India. The next day, he crossed the border in Khenzimane/Chuthangmu.
Since then, he never returned to Tibet. He would certainly not recognize the ‘model’ villages.
Sunday, October 28, 2018
The work of 182-meter tall statue has been completed after round the clock work by 3,400 labourers and 250 engineers at Sadhu Bet island on Narmada River in Gujarat.
Sadhu Bet, located some 3.5km away from the Narmada dam, is linked by a 250-meter long bridge.
Flowers will be grown on the hillocks adjoining the statue to make the 230-hectare area look like a Valley of Flowers.
Scarce Scholarly Research
For several reasons, scarce scholarly research has been done on the internal history of the Congress; the main cause is probably that a section of the party would prefer to keep the history under wrap.
Take the acute difference of opinion between Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister and ‘Panditji’, as Nehru was known.
In the last weeks of Patel’s life (he passed away on December 15, 1950) there was a deep split between the two leaders, leading to unilateral decisions, for which India still has to pay the heaviest price.
The most serious apple of discord was Tibet’s invasion by the Chinese ‘Liberation Army’ in October of 1950.
In the course of recent researches in the Indian archives, I discovered several new facts. Not only several senior Congress leaders, led by Patel, (other leaders were C. Rajagopalachari, President Rajendra Prasad, KM Munshi, etc) violently opposed Nehru suicidal policy, but many senior bureaucrats too, did not agree with the Prime Minister’s decisions and objected to his policy of appeasement, which lead India to lose a peaceful border.
Patel's letter to Nehru on Tibet
It is usually assumed that on November 7, Sardar Patel wrote a ‘prophetic’ letter to Nehru, detailing the implications for India of Tibet’s invasion. In fact, Patel used a draft given by Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the Secretary General of the Ministry of External Affairs and Commonwealth.
A month after the entry of the People’s Liberation Army in Tibet, Patel sent Bajpai’s note under his own signature, to Nehru, who decided to ignore the Deputy Prime Minister’s letter.
Bajpai, the most seasoned Indian diplomat, lost his legendary cool after witnessing the nefarious influence of KM Panikkar, the Indian Ambassador to China, who ceaselessly defended the Chinese interests.
On October 31, in an internal note, Bajpai detailed the sequence of events which followed Tibet’s invasion and the role of Panikkar, whose attitude was compared to the one of Sir Neville Hendersons toward Hitler.
What decided Patel to send his letter to Nehru was a note from the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
We are reproducing below the IB note which is probably dated from the end of October 1950.
The IB Note was sent by Sardar Patel along with his letter to the Prime Minister.
|Draft of Patel's letter kept in the National Archives of India|
New Problems of Internal Security Caused by the Chinese Occupation of Tibet
(a Note from the Intelligence Bureau)
India occupies a very important position in the general pattern of world communism and next only to Russia and China. As early as 1923 Lenin after posing the question “Can we save ourselves from the impending conflict with these Imperialist countries”, gave the answer in the following words” “In the last analysis the upshot of the struggle will be determined by the fact that Russia, India and China account for the overwhelming majority of the population of the globe and it is precisely this majority that during the past few years has been drawn into the struggle for emancipation with extraordinary rapidity so that in this respect there cannot be the slightest shadow of doubt what the final outcome of the world’s struggle will be. In this sense the complete victory of socialism is fully and absolutely assured”. Lenin also said that the shortest way to Paris was through Peking and Delhi. In 1924 Moscow declared that India most stand at the head of free Eastern Republics. This view has been reiterated by Soviet leaders since 1923 on numerous occasions and even as late as 1949 Malenkov, the Communist leader next only to Stalin in Soviet Russia, stressed this aspect of the revolution. In fact, India is considered to be the pivotal point round which the south East Asia and the Middle East Asia must revolve not only because of her strategic position but also on account of her vast resources, non-power and moral influence. In articles published in 1949 in the “Problems of Economics” in Moscow, it was stated that during the period between the first and second world wars China was in the vanguard of the revolutionary movement of the peoples of the colonies and semi colonies and now during the period between the second and the third world wars it was India’s turn to take its place. Consistent with these steadfastly held ideas, the USSR and International Communists can never give up their ambition of converting India into a communist State and in fact they can never feel secure in their socialism me long as India does not accept and practise the same creed. Just as India’s struggle for freedom culminated not only in the achievement of independence for India but also for many neighbouring countries, and it is India’s example which is inspiring freedom struggles in other colonial countries in Asia, similarly there is no doubt that India’s conversion to the Communist faith will also envelop all the neighbouring countries in communism. So long as India holds out these countries can also held out, but if India goes they cannot resist. The International Communism therefore must do everything possible to convert India to communism. There is no question of their deviating from this idea by any amount of negotiation or diplomatic pressure. In all Cominform and Russian authoritative publications and even in the publications of the satellite countries, India has been described to be a colonial state, groaning under the heels of the Anglo-American Imperialists and the ‘Nehru’ Government as their lackeys. The Indian Communists have been repeatedly told to unite all progressive classes against the ‘Nehru’ Government, create agrarian troubles and initiate armed struggles which have been held to be the only way in which national liberation can be achieved. All groups in the Communist Party in India have accepted this directive and are trying to pool all their strength to follow it by creating new Telanganas everywhere and put the countryside progressively on the rails of armed struggle. As has been seen repeatedly in the past, Russia and her satellites are quite willing to negotiate on their own terms but they have always achieved their aims by the application of force only.
2. Soviet Russia now feels that India will be more swayed by the influence of China than of Russia and Mao Tse Tung will make a better leader for the Indian masses than even Stalin can. It is with this object that the Peking Liaison Bureau was established last year, that Mao Tse Tung has been given a dominating voice in the affairs of India and Far east and that the Indian Communists have been told by numerous Communist publications, as well as by the Cominform, in clear unambiguous words, to follow the China way to victory. If therefore the occupation of Tibet by the Communist forces gives to the world Communism any strategical and tactical advantages of furthering the cause of communism in India, all such advantages will be exploited legally and illegally to the fullest extent without any consideration for international conventions and even though the Chinese Government may continue to remain superficially in the friend list terms with the Indian Government. And the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese Communists does open up vast possibilities for creating internal disorders and disruptions within India.
3. Up till now India’s northern frontier from Ladakh in the west to the Sadiya Hill Tracts in the east has been free from any dangers of external invasion or from even any subversive movements fostered by external forces. With Tibet as a weak and autonomous country, giving many facilities to India which no other independent country would give, India could rightly feel absolutely secure about its northern frontier and this sense of security was reflected in is best in all the policies followed with respect to this northern frontier and actions taken for its security in these areas and on the understanding that no danger would come to India from the north very little security measures have been taken which in the altered circumstances will be found to be completely inadequate.
4. Within our borders in all these frontier areas live races and tribes who have been practically semi independent and who by religious, linguistic, cultural and ethnical ties are bound more with Tibet than with India. In fact, the hill tribes of the Sadiya Hill Tracts, the Bhutanis, the Sikkimis or the Ladakhis have little affinity with the Aryans of the Gangetic and the Brahmaputra Valleys. The tribes living in the Sadiya Hill Tracts have never been properly subordinated and India exercises only nominal authority over them leaving them free to live their own lives. If given a choice to affiliate either with India or with Tibet, under existing circumstances they are almost sure to vote for Tibet and not for India. Bhutan’s foreign affairs are controlled by India, but this has been possible only because Bhutan’s other neighbor, Tibet, was weak. With a new and aggressive Tibet under China’s guidance there is every likelihood that Bhutan will change her attitude towards India and by all standards the Bhutanese are more akin to the Tibetans than to the Indians and given the freedom of choice there is no doubt in which direction her choice will lie. Sikkim is inhabited by a large number of Tibetans and members of the ruling family have all their marriage ties with the Tibetans. There is little to distinguish between the Sikkimese and the Tibetans. Kalimpong and Darjeeling were originally parts of Sikkim and a fair proportion of the population in these areas also consists of the Sikkimese and the Tibetans. Nepal, which forms the frontier with Bihar and U.P., has got a regime which in extremely unpopular and where the ruling family is sitting on the top of a volcano which may burst out at any moment. Similarly, Ladakh is more a part of Tibet than of India.
5. With an aggressive Chinese Communist Government in Tibet, intent on furthering the creed of International Communism in India and holding the belief that World Communism and so Communism in China can never be safe unless India becomes a Communist country and following the basic Communist creed that the International proletariat (which in other words means the Soviet and the Chinese Governments) must assist the peoples of all Colonial countries (which include India) in their fight for national liberation (which in India means the overthrow of the ‘Nehru’ Government), every method will be adopted to disrupt the integrity of India and what will be more opportune and easy than to foster trouble in these frontier areas where India’s administrative control is not strong and where her cultural influence is less.
All these tribes living the frontier regions will be directly encouraged to agitate for independence so that they can later be drawn into the Communist fold. Russia’s method of solving the problem of small nationalities has been extremely successful and it appeals to all under-civilized tribes and races. Communist China has successfully prosecuted the same policy within its own frontiers and India must be prepared to meet this challenge. There are large numbers of Gurkhas who are residents of Tibet and just as the Chinese formed a Tibetan Liberation Army, similarly they after the occupation of Tibet will form a Nepalese Liberation Army and attempt to liberate Nepal where the present rulers can show very little resistance. There is reliable information that the Nepalese Communists are trying to go into Tibet to contact the Tibetan and Chinese Communists. Even on the eastern frontier of Assam, China claims the northern triangle of Burma, which is inhabited by the Kachins, as part of her own territory and there are reports that some Kachin leaders have already gone to Yunnan and are receiving training under the Communists, probably to form a Kaohin Liberation Army. Burmese Government will be able to offer little resistance to it. If Kachin goes under the Communists, the tribals living in the Naga Hills, Manipur and the Lushai Hills will start trouble because even now the Lushais, the Kukis and the China living on this frontier areas are trying for accession of their territories to Burma. They certainly have more ethnical and cultural ties with the population on the other side of the frontier than with the Aryans of India. Even the Ahoms have agitated for linking up with the Kachins to form an independent State. For the sake of her security, India must firmly retain her hold or influence in these areas because once India loses her control her entire belly will be opened up to direct attacks. Militarily also these areas can be held with comparatively smaller forces but once the Communists establish their hold in there areas the defence of the plains will become extremely difficult and will require large manpower. Communists will no doubt arm these tribals and make them the spearheads of their attacks on and frays into India. There areas will then be just as difficult to protect as the N.W.F.P. has been in the past.
6. With China on India’s long unguarded frontier, the Indian Communists will be in a good position to get help by the way of supply of arms, by the infiltration of trained agents and by direct contact with the Chinese Communists. The Indian Communists have been badly mauled during the last 2 ½ years and they are passing through a difficult period and there is definite information that they are wanting direct guidance from the foreign Communists. So far attempts to make such contacts have to a great extent been countered by Governmental action but with China strongly entrenched in Tibet it will be extremely difficult to stop this contact. With the commencement of trouble in the frontier areas where India’s Armed forces will have to be moved, more Telengana struggles will be launched in India itself so as to dissipate India’s Armed forces by wide dispersal.
Communications and industries will be sabotaged to make the movement of troops difficult and to disrupt India’s economy thereby creating wide dissatisfaction amongst the masses. These are not more speculations because it is known that these firm instructions have been issued by Soviet Russia to the Indian Communists and the circulars issued by the C.P.I. show that the Indian Communists are preparing to carry out these directives. Therefore the occupation of Tibet by Communist China not only raises problems of security from external danger across India’s long and practically unguarded frontiers and problems of security in the border tribal regions now under India’s control but also very serious problems of internal security in the Sub-continent itself. Suggestions that follow for taking measures against this three-fold danger cover many aspects of the problem, many of which are not the concern of the Intelligence Bureau but they are being made to provide material for the M.H.A. to make final proposals to the Government.
7. Administrative Measures
Sadiya Hill Tracks
Modern administrative measures should be introduced immediately. The area held by each tribe should be formed into a district and a District officer with all necessary staff should be posted. Police Stations should be opened and instead of continuing the old tribal system of maintaining law and order, modern Police methods of administration should be introduced. District officers should make a detailed survey of the economic needs of the areas under them and see that these needs are met by supplies from Indian so that economically these areas are tied to India and not to Tibet. Schools should be opened in which the languages to be taught will be both Hindi or Assamese and the tribal so that the inhabitants may gradually forge cultural links with the plains people. Hospitals and dispensaries should be opened and philanthropic missions, such as the Rama Krishna Mission, may be encouraged by payment of subsidies to open centres in these areas. The strength of the Assam Rifle battalions in these areas should be increased and each district should have the minimum equivalent of one battalion with reserves kept at strategic centres. In the Assam Rifles, the recruitment of northern Indians should be encouraged because in any conflict with the tribes the tribal element in these units may not be found to be very loyal, as has been experienced with the Tripura Rifles recently. These regions should continue to remain directly under the Central Government.
Manipur, Lushai and Naga Hills
The existing administration in Manipur and Lushai Hills should be further strengthened and Police Stations should be opened in the Lushai Hills area. The economic needs of these areas should be studied and met from Indian sources. Indian language should be popularized through schools and other welfare measures should be undertaken. The Naga Hills area, which is at present unadministered, must be brought to the same level of administrations as has been proposed for the Sadiya Hill Tracts. These areas should be under the direct control of the Central Government.
It is necessary to strengthen Bhutan’s ties with India by changing the treaty, if possible, and placing more advisers in the Bhutan administration. More outlet for Bhutan’s trade with India may be created at Government’s initiative instead of leaving it to private enterprisers. Education and medical missions may open schools in Bhutan just as Christian Missions may open schools in Bhutan just as Christian Missions may open schools in Bhutan just as Christian Missions have been educating the tribals, aborigines and backward people in India and China for over a century. The new treaty should have a clause to enable India to post troops in Bhutan for protecting her from external dangers if such a provision does not already exist.
India’s control in this territory may be further tightened and the Sikkim Congress group, which owes allegiance to the Indian National Congress, may be encouraged. Here also, under Indian Government’s efforts educational and medical missions may be established to forge more closely Sikkim’s ties with India. Administration may be brought to the level of an Indian district. A strong contingent of troops should be posted in Sikkim as the highway from Tibet to India traverses Sikkim before entering Darjeeling district.
India’s present treaty with Nepal allows for consultations in case of external danger. The present Nepal Government certainly does not welcome communism in its territory but is hardly in a position to resit Communist aggression. Therefore the Nepal Government will probably be only too willing to accept India’s assistance in warding off this external danger. For improving internal resistance, a more democratic set-up is necessary. The consultations may give India facility to ask Nepal to allow her army to be trained by Indian officers in the same way as the Russians are training the Czech and the Polish armies. India should provide equipment to the Nepalese army.
Kumaon Hills Garhwal Hills and Himachal Pradesh
The administration in these areas should be tightened by posting executive officers where there are none and opening up more Police Stations. The economic needs of these areas should also be studied and properly met and educational and medical facilities should be extended/
The administration here should also be brought to the same level as in rest of India and police stations should be opened in this Valley. Economic, educational and medical measures may be taken as in the other areas.
The Defence Department must be considering problems from its own angle but what needs to be emphasized is that the communist world understands force and nothing else. They will be willing to negotiate but will follow Bismark’s policy of always keeping a million bayonets behind to support their discussions and agreements can be reached only on their own terms. The defence needs of Assam, Bhutan and Sikkim, as sell as Nepal, have to be closely studied. The presence of strong units ready to strike back will not only discourage any aggressive acts from across the border but will also keep the hostile elements within our own frontiers under subjugation.
For both defence and internal security purposes, India should be in a position to collect reliable intelligence of Communist activities in China, Tibet, Burma, Nepal and all the frontier regions and their possible repercussions in India proper. For this purpose the following measures are suggested:
(i) Inside Tibet
It is presumed that China will allow an Indian Consulate to work either at Lhasa or at Gyantse. There should be posted to this Consulate an Intelligence Officer of the experience of an Assistant Director of the Bureau. As Tibet cannot be immediately drawn behind an impenetrable iron curtain, the possibilities of collecting intelligence in that country will be great. This post should be linked with the Intelligence post at Kalimpong. Details of developing this intelligence and communication will be worked out in detail and are beyond the scope of this note.
(ii) Inside China
There should be an Intelligence Officer of the rank and experience of assistant Director in our Embassy in Peking with assistants in Shanghai, Hongkong and other places where we have Consulates or other offices. It will be impossible for the Embassy officials without an Intelligence Officer to get full intelligence of intentions or contemplated actions which may be contrary to India’s interest. In the present case of the invasion of Tibet the shortcomings of system of collecting intelligence by the Indian Embassy in Peking has been only too evident. In China also the possibilities of setting up a good intelligence system are good.
(iii) Inside Burma
In the Indian Embassy in Rangoon should be posted an Intelligence Officer of the rank and experience of an Assistant Director, with the large Indian population practically all over Burma, a good intelligence system can easily be established. A branch will have to be opened in Kachin area. Links will be with the S.I.Bs. at Calcutta and Shillong. Details will be worked out separately. (The British have their intelligence organisation both in China and Burma).
(iv) Inside Bhutan
An Intelligence Officer of the rank of a D.C.I.O. should be posted here and may be attached to any mission which India may establish at Punakha. This post will be linked with the post at Kalimpong. Border watch posts will have to be established in the north to prevent infiltration.
(v) Inside Nepal
An Assistant Director from the Bureau has already been posted at Khatmandu. In the consultations which Nepal Government will have with India, it may be decided that this officer should have full assistance of the Nepal authorities and would liaise fully with them. As the danger from Communists is same both to India and Nepal, therefore co-operation on this aspect should not at all be difficult. Our Embassy at Khatmandu is already in radio-telephonic communication with Patna and this post will be linked with our post at Patna. Nepal will have to be persuaded to open border watch posts in the northern frontier.
(vi) Within Indian Frontier
A scheme for establishing frontier watch posts was prepared in the Bureau and approved by both the M.H.A. and M.E.A. The implementation of this scheme was however kept in abeyance due to financial reasons and also because it was believed that China would not take any immediate aggressive action against Tibet. As however the situation has radically changed, this scheme should be sanctioned immediately. It visualizes the opening of watch posts all along the Indo-Tibetan border to guard all the passes.
(vii) Within India.
The intelligence set-up inside India is good and is well posted with the activities of the Indian communists. Improvements are constantly being made. No special step is therefore necessary. All Branches will be alerted to be more vigilant about Communist activities. All attempts to establish Telangans must be frustrated by resolute and timely action. Gun-running must be stopped because without arms liberation armies cannot be set up. Every action should be taken to prevent contacts between the Indian and the Chinese Communists. (Dange has been found to be in contact with the Chinese Ambassador in Delhi). China’s invasion of Tibet should be exploited to prove the aggressive intentions of Communist China.
(viii) Registration of Tibetans & Chinese.
The Chinese are already being registered and the registration of Tibetans, who will become Chinese nationals after China occupies Tibet, should also be under-taken immediately. Restrictions should be placed on their movements in and out of India and it will be necessary to exercise strict vigilance over the large Chinese population in India and make them conform to all the restrictions which the Act imposes. This may look to be too drastic but proper discretion can be utilized in making the movements of innocuous Chinese as easy as possible whilst exercising real surveillance over the suspects.
In the frontier regions, except near Kalimpong and Gangtok (Sikkim) road communication is extremely difficult and consists mostly of foot or mule tracks and there is no telephone or telegraphic communication. For developing proper security measures it is necessary to open up roads in all these areas and also have a net-work of telephone and telegraph lines and wireless stations. The utility of well-developed communications in subordinating hostile tribes was well demonstracted by the policy which the British Army followed in the N.W.F.P. Acutually on many occasions in the past the need for improving communications in these inaccessible areas was recognized by the Government but as there was no immediate danger to India’s security from across these frontiers any expenditure incurred on this work was probably considered to be uneconomic. However, these communications are very necessary for security purposes in the changed circumstances and therefore the development of both road and tele-communication should be undertaken without delay.
10. Other Measures
With the Chinese army in Tibet, which is used to fighting in mountainous territories, probably certain regrouping of India’s Armed Forces will be necessary. As these are however limited, unless new units are raised, which will mean incurring large expenditure, withdrawals have to take place from Commands where no external danger of aggression is present; but these areas, like Telengana, may be important from internal security point of view. But for internal security work and even for operations against armed Communists and operations on the frontier tribal areas, regular army is not necessary, nor is it advisable to dissipate the Army’s strength in this way. Military Police Units of the type, which have been raised in Bihar, U.P., N.Bengal, Madras and Delhi and also the C.R.P. and which are already operating in Hyderabad, should be sufficient to deal with these internal disorders and for maintaining vital communications. It is therefore necessary to examine urgently the question of increasing the Armed Police strength in U.P., Bihar, Bengal and Assam, increasing the strength of the Assam Rifles, Tripura rifles and raising new Units as Manipur Rifles and increasing the strength of the C.R.P. The expenditure incurred on maintaining such Military Police will be much less compared to that of maintaining the same number of troops and for the purpose for which they are intended they will be equally effective. This will leave the Army to concentrate itself on its training and fighting external aggression, if that contingency arises, and for which preparations have to be kept ready. Details of these internal security forces can be separately worked out.
11. This note is not meant to be alarmist but only for the purpose of suggesting precautionary measures for meeting the dangers which are inherent in Communist China’s occupation of Tibet. As has been stressed at the beginning, international Communists can never give up their idea of drawing India within their fold and can never feel secure till they have succeeded in achieving this object and therefore they will follow every method possible, legal or illegal, conforming or not conforming to international conventions to further their aims and experience has shown in Korea and Indo-China that Chinese Communists are quite prepared to give material aid to the local Communist Parties in the latter’s attempt to seize power by force. The measures suggested are meant to resist the implementation of any such aggressive intentions. Some of the measures, suggested above, such as setting up better administration in frontier areas and efficient intelligence organizations in the frontier regions and outside our frontiers will take a long time for full implementation and therefore decision about the measures necessary may be taken immediately so that no further time may be lost in making a start with those of the suggested security measures which are approved.