Friday, December 6, 2019

Politics of Reincarnation

China already playing politics with the 9th Panchen Lama (with Chiang Kai-chek on the picture)
My article Politics of Incarnation appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer

A few months ago, a board was placed outside a monastery in Tibet; it stated that Government officials and Communist cadres were not allowed to enter the premises of the gompa as the Chinese State was atheistic.
One can understand that the Communist Party of China (CPC), religiously following the precepts of its founding father, is not in favour of any spiritual practices.
More recently, the CCP issued a notice banning retired Tibetan government employees from taking part in any religious activities.
According to Human Rights Watch, the notice required “all Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) government and retired government employees – regardless of whether those retirees are party members – to submit a list by August 18 of any ‘retired personnel performing the kora,’ the Tibetan practice of circumambulating a sacred site.”
Though the People’s Republic of China is atheist by definition and does not believe in the return of a soul, it wants now to control the reincarnation of the Tibetan Lamas; read the "Management measures for the reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism" notified by the State Council on July 13, 2007, you will understand.
Article 1 spoke of “protecting religious concord and social harmony, and protecting the normal order of Tibetan Buddhism.” It asserted that: “Reincarnating Living Buddhas should respect the religious rituals and historically established systems of Tibetan Buddhism;” it insists on an old ritual rarely used, the Golden Urn, which can easily be manipulated …further “Reincarnating living Buddhas shall not be interfered with or be under the dominion of any foreign organization or individual.” In other words, the Dalai Lama is not allowed to be reborn in India.
Is China an atheist or a religious State?
The answer is: it depends on the interests of the Party. When it is convenient, it follows the Marxist orthodoxy, but when its interests differ, the CCP becomes expert in religious practices, particularly in the ‘reincarnation’ process.
Already in 2015, Padma Choling, then Chairman of the Standing Committee of the TAR People's Congress and then the only ‘ethnic’ Tibetan, member of the CPC’s Central Committee, created a flutter when he declared: “It's not up to the Dalai Lama to decide about his own reincarnation.” He objected to an announcement by the Dalai Lama that ‘his traditional religious role should cease with his death’. Padma Choling affirmed that the Dalai Lama’s renouncement was against “the Tibetan Buddhism tradition as the soul of a senior lama is [always] reincarnated in the body of a child on his death.”
Marx would have shuddered in his tomb, had he heard Choling uttering this Marxist blasphemy.
But this does not disturb the Communist leaders ‘in the new era’; today they argue that one can be Marxist and capitalist at the same time.
A recent development has brought some clarity.
On 29 November, the Dalai Lama addressed the issue of his reincarnation at a three-day Tibetan Religious Conference, a gathering of 117 Tibetan Buddhist and Bon senior leaders in Dharamsala.
On the occasion of the closing ceremony, the Tibetan spiritual leader told the rinpoches that there was no hurry to talk about his reincarnation; he affirmed “I am fine physically and mentally — is there any hurry to talk about my reincarnation?” He added that he will consult his advisors to decide on his reincarnation when he turns 90.
This is a welcome change from some contradictory statements made earlier, particularly that he was not keen to ‘return’, that the system was ‘medieval’ or that he will come back as an attractive lady.
On the first day of the Conference, the assembled Lamas had passed an important three-point resolution to counter China. The first point mentioned was the Karmic bond between the Dalai Lamas and the Tibetan people which is ‘unbreakable’; it added that all Tibetans “genuinely wish for the continuation of the Institution and Reincarnation of the Dalai Lama in the future.” The Dalai Lama was supplicated to ‘come back’.
The second point made it clear that “the authority of decision concerning the way and the manner in which the next reincarnation of the XIV Dalai Lama should appear solely rests with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama himself. No government or otherwise will have such authority.”
It was the best way to counteract Beijing’s stance (and religious new ‘skills’). The third point, the monks’ gathering urged that “the same unique Tibetan traditional method, which has been continuously used until now, will be followed.”
Though it says that this method conforms to “the basic philosophy and tenets of the Buddhadharma and originated in Tibet over 800 years ago,” no details were provided, leaving the door opened to possible manipulation by China.
Incidentally, it is regrettable that among the 117 senior monks, the feminine gender was not represented; this is probably one of the reasons why the Dalai Lama terms the system as ‘medieval’.
The Chinese are aware that the reincarnation system is not purely a religious affair; it has always had a political angle. One historical example is the strife between the Ninth Panchen and the Thirteenth Dalai Lama which revolved around taxes to be paid by the Panchen Lama estate to the Dalai Lama’s government. As the result of the dispute, the Panchen took refuge in China in 1923; he was well-looked after by the Kuomintang, who had an eye on Tibet. A Chinese scholar recently wrote that “the treatment of the Ninth Panchen Lama was further enhanced in response to [China’s] needs on the border [with India]. In June 1931, the National Government appointed the Ninth Panchen Lama as an ambassador and set up an agency which was given a hefty monthly budget of 15,000 yuans.”
The Panchen Lama himself received 120,000 yuans monthly; it was not a salary said the scholar, but "for his personal expenses and the living expenses of his followers and monks.”
The fact that the US Congress recently passed a bill on the succession or reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhist leaders shows that it is still a highly political issue today.
The Tibetans should be left alone to decide their spiritual future, but even if India does not interfere, Delhi does have high stakes in the issue, particularly in connection with the Himalayan region where Buddhism has so far played a stabilizing role. The Dalai Lama is hopefully aware of this.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Xi Jinping's many problems: Hong Kong to Xinjiang

My article Xi Jinping's many problems: Hong Kong to Xinjiang appeared in Mail Today/DailyO.


Here is the link...

Beijing faced a 'tsunami' in favour of the pro-democracy movement and then its atrocities on Uyghur Muslims were exposed to the world.

Since his visit to Mamallapuram, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been facing a rough sea at home. The 4th plenary session of the 19th Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee was held in Beijing from October 28 to 31. The members discussed the work report presented by Xi and adopted it "to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics".
The complicated situation of increasing risk challenges at home and abroad," was mentioned in the communiqué. The gathering "upheld the principle of 'one country, two systems', maintaining lasting prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macao, and promoting the peaceful reunification of China." Today, it looks like a distant dream.

Hong Kong polls
Beijing did not expect a 'tsunami' in favour of the pro-democracy movement which won 392 out of 452 seats in the Hong Kong local elections. Anti-Beijing candidates took control of 17 out of 18 district councils. "Xinhua waited until Monday afternoon to release a two-paragraph news report on the polls, stating only that the elections took place and 18 districts produced results," The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
Meanwhile, the People's Daily just spoke of the history of US intervention in foreign elections.
In the weeks preceding the elections, the Global Times repeatedly claimed that a 'silent majority' in Hong Kong was condemning the protests. What complicates Xi's life further is that their victory could give pro-democracy candidates a larger say in the selection process for the next chief executive as they control of 117 seats on the 1,200-member selection committee. "This shift in the balance of power will mean that Beijing will be more reliant on the major property developers and their business associates — at a time when Beijing has been trying to wean itself away from [them]," SCMP said. So, the 'tycoons' may decide who will be the Communist leader of the semi-autonomous region. That is not the only problem of Mr Xi.

Spy gone rogue

Wang Liqiang, who spied for China for many years, recently defected to Australia. He wrote a 12-page Chinese-language confession on some disturbing aspects of Beijing's political interference. The Age in Australia cited a few: "efforts to manipulate Taiwan's elections, infiltration of student organisations in Hong Kong, and even the kidnapping of political dissidents. [Wang gave] names of organisations and key figures in Chinese military intelligence." Wang, probably one of the first operatives from China to blow his cover, is now seeking protection in Australia.
To make things worse, on November 16, The New York Times published excerpts of 403 pages of internal classified documents on China's crackdown on Xinjiang. It is an unprecedented insider's view on the clampdown and, particularly, the internment camps, where more than one million Muslims are kept.
"As the government presented its efforts in Xinjiang to the public as benevolent and unexceptional, [Beijing] discussed and organised a ruthless and extraordinary campaign in these internal communications. Senior party leaders are recorded ordering drastic and urgent action against extremist violence, including the mass detentions, and discussing the consequences with cool detachment," the NYT reported.
"The documents show China's plans for sweeping extrajudicial detentions and internment camps in Xinjiang are all signed by one man: Zhu Hailun," the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists noted. Zhu came to Xinjiang in 1975 as part of a party initiative to send educated urban youth to live in the countryside to further China's Maoist revolution. But they should not forget Chen Quanguo, the party boss in Xinjiang. At the end of August 2016, Chen was sent from his post in Tibet to 'pacify' the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). The party believed that Zhang Chunxian, Chen's predecessor in Xinjiang, could not deliver the goods. For Chen, it was a reward for his 'Tibet recipe' as he was soon promoted to the all-powerful politburo. In five years, he managed to 'stabilise' Tibet. What was the recipe? First, utter ruthlessness. Second, Chen transformed the plateau into a vast Disneyland: Chinese tourists descended on Tibet in waves to experience the 'Paradise on Earth' with its blue sky, pristine lakes and rivers, luxuriant forests and deep canyons.

Uyghur secret out
Chen used powerful slogans such as 'Social management', 'Comprehensive Rectification', 'Preventive Control', 'Eliminate-Unseen-Threats', 'Nets-in-the-Sky-Traps-on-the-Ground' or 'Copper-Ramparts-Iron-Walls'. The latter translates into "an impenetrable public security defense network consisting of citizen patrols, border security posts, police check posts, surveillance systems... and other mechanisms." This was the recipe to control the Tibetan plateau.
In Xinjiang, Chen added the infamous internment camps. I almost forgot to mention one more headache of Xi's: US President Donald J. Trump, who is threatening him with a trade war. Also, as I concluded this article, the news came that Yonten, a 24 year-old Tibetan man from Ngawa in Eastern Tibet, immolated himself protesting the Chinese rule in Tibet. He is the 156th to do so.
India is indeed a 'cool' country in comparison.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Precious Human Body

A few days ago, Dr Yeshi Dhonden, the renowned Tibetan physician passed away at his home in McLeod Ganj. He was 92.
Born on 15 May 1927 into a peasant family holding a deep medical lineage, in Lhokha, Yeshi Dhonden was sent to a monastery at the age of six.
At age 11, he joined the Chakpori Institute of Tibetan Medicine, in the Tibetan capital Lhasa; he studied there for nine years.
After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, he took refuge India.
In March 1961, Dr Yeshi Dhonden was appointed Director and Chief Medical Officer of Men-Tsee-Khang, the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh.
He also served as personal physician to the Dalai Lama for almost twenty years, from 1963 to 1980.
In March 2018, Dr Dhonden was awarded the Padma Shri award by President of India, for his contributions in the field of Sowa Rigpa — the traditional Tibetan medicine.
The passing of Dr Dhonden reminded me of another great Amji, Dr Tenzin Choedrak and the talk he gave in Auroville exactly thirty years ago.
I am reproducing the transcript of the talk of this great human being.


A talk on The Precious Human Body by Dr. Tenzin Choedrak, Senior Physician to H.H. The Dalai Lama (November 23, 1989) in Auroville (Tamil Nadu).


Dr. Tenzin Choedrak, Dr. Dorjee Rabten, Dr. Lobsang Tsultrim, Ms. Perna Tsomo, Ms. Tandin Sangno and Ms. Phurpu Dolma, the team members from the Tibetan Medical Institute, Dharamsala are introduced to the audience.


X: On behalf of Auroville, I wish Dr. Choedrak a happy and fruitful stay here. I hope that his coming will make stronger the link between Auroville and Tibet. Dr. Dorjee will give us a short biography of Dr. Choedrak as an introduction.

Dr.Dorjee Rabten: Dr. Choedrak was born in 1922, in Sneymo near Lhasa. At the age of 10, he was sent to Choday monastery to begin his studies of Buddhism. After a series of graduation he became a Lama and then started studying medicine. Later he became a Tibetan Physician. Because of his outstanding qualifications, he was promoted as Chief Physician to H.H. the Dalai Lama in 1957.
In 1959, when the Chinese invaded Tibet, he was taken as a prisoner to communist China and he remained in their various prisons for 21 years. During 17 of these years, his survival was daily endangered. Dr. Choedrak lived daily with death and all sorts of threats, but his belief system allowed him to go through all the experiences, and in a way, it helped him to prevent a permanent des¬tabilization of his personality or to commit suicide. Despite all these difficulties, he is with us today.
It may be interesting if I read a brief write-up by Dr. Albert Crum who is a medical Director of Psychiatric Services International, P.C. and Clinical Professor of Behavioral Science at New York University. He also is a good friend of Dr Choedrak.
He wrote in his lengthy interviews with Dr. Choedrak about his special personality:
What I call the Triumphant Person is an adult who has suffered overwhelming, excruciating, catastrophic experiences or devastating losses, and who goes on to become stronger, more creative, and more contributing than before. They might be expected to be at the highest risk for posttraumatic stress disorder, or to suffer stressrelated illnesses, or simply die or become creatively impaired for life. But the crisis instead of causing chronic illness, death or a permanent impediment in their lives seems to become an enhancement to them. Somehow, the injuries they suffer, the crisis they experience become an opportunity for betterment of their growth and development.
In advance of our first meeting with Dr. Choedrak I was already deeply moved by what I had read. He had faced all manner of uncertainties, including the likelihood of death, on a daily basis. I expected to see evidence of emotional scars imprinted on his personality. The long ordeal he suffered is unique in its magnitude and duration of its cruelty and his ability to endure it appeared near superhuman.
In 1962, Dr. Choedrak returned to Tibet to the notorious Drapchi prison where he remained until 1972 and then to Yidutu prison until 1976. At that time, a Chinese physician needed help for a personal medical matter and Dr. Choedrak helped him, so during the last four years of his prison sentence, he was permitted to resume his duty as a physician for the Tibetans inside Yidutu prison. He was finally released from prison in 1980. A month later, he left Tibet and was reunited with his community in India. He was reinstalled as Chief Physician of H.H. the Dalai Lama, and he is also the Chief Medical Officer of the Tibetan Medical Institute in Dharamsala.
Dr. Choedrak travels extensively in India, in the United States and in Western Europe. He has about 3000 patients abroad. Many patients suffering from diabetes, asthma, hypertension and certain cases of cancer have greatly benefited from Dr. Choedrak's treatment. Besides this, he attends many international conferences on medicine.
I hope that our presence here and specially Dr. Choedrak's will help the people of Auroville and also the Indian people in their aspiration for a better world. Dr. Choedrak will now speak briefly about the preciousness of the human body and how we can best utilize our human body and our human mind in our difficulties and our impediments.

Dr. Choedrak: Tibet is the land of many religious persons. Tibet is blessed by Lord Avalokiteshvara, the Lord of Compassion. And under the dynamic guidance of H.H. the Dalai Lama, who is believed to be an emanation of Lord Avaloketesvara, the people of Tibet follow their religion and their traditions deep in their hearts. Buddhist philosophy is a very simple teaching, "one should be a very simple human being, one should serve other people in their needs, one should develop a mind full of love, compassion, forgiveness and tolerance".
These are the daily advice and teachings of H.H. the Dalai Lama. Practicing these teachings, the people of Tibet can practically use the Buddhist philosophy for their own betterment as well as for the betterment of all the human beings of the world.

During my studies in the monasteries, the Buddhist scriptures have taught me the art of practicing love, compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness towards human beings. This is the reason why during my imprisonment, I was able to survive and sustain myself from the daily tortures and thamzings (public "struggle" session of re-education during which the prisoners are beaten and tortured and are supposed to confess their crimes committed against the communist regime and repudiate the Dalai Lama and the "Old Society"). Through all these difficulties, I practiced the Buddhist teachings in order to survive without having any considerable physical and mental malfunctions.
One's human body is very precious, one should be aware of this preciousness. We have the capacity, the power with the human body as well as with the human mind to work for the betterment of all human beings and also animals.

I want to emphasize the preciousness of the human body. A human body is very difficult to obtain. one has to accumulate so many merits, year after year, lives after lives in order to obtain a human life and a human body. Therefore one should never waste this human birth with bad deeds, instead strive to achieve the best out of it.
So, the human body is very precious.
Of course animals and other creatures are also very precious. There are so many hundreds of sorts of animals on Mother Earth, but only the human body has the capacity and the power to reach enlightenment, to practice compassion and forgiveness, to help to relieve oneself from our own sins. And this body can also be used for the sake of other human beings.

In many prisons, I have gone through so many tortures, so many difficulties that I came to believe that whatever the difficulties, whatever the tortures I had to endure, it was the fruit of my own misdeeds in previous lives, the fruit of my own previous karma. It was due to the law of cause and effect: whatever I did in previous lives, I have to bear the fruit in the present life. So, this belief was a sort of consolation that I was getting at that time. The Chinese, my tormentors in torturing me and due to law of cause and effect will bear the fruit of their actions during this life or in the next. They will have to undergo difficulties.

Of course in Tibetan tradition, in Buddhist teachings the main theme is to be simple, to be helpful to benefit other human beings.
Tradition is precious. Tradition is beneficial.
The man who practices should be determined not to harm others, not to inflict tortures, not to hate, to be angered at other people. Yesterday Claude mentioned a snake incident. He said that during the last 20 years nobody has been seriously harmed by a snake in Auroville. He also said that the Mother had said that Aurovilians should not kill snakes and if Aurovilians do not kill snakes, snakes will not harm Aurovilians.
It is very true, not only for snakes, but for other animals. H we let them live happily and peacefully, they in turn will let you live happily and peacefully. This is very, very important.
One is the master of oneself. One can protect oneself and also protect many other beings from various difficulties.

It is very difficult to believe what the Chinese communists, the Chinese tormentors have done to Tibet: the tortures, the hardship and the genocide inflicted to the people of Tibet. Of course it is due to the law of cause and effect and of course the Chinese will have to bear the fruit of what they have done.

We are an independent nation, we have our own country. It is our right to fight for our independence. And under the dynamic leadership of H.H. the Dalai Lama and through the kind support of the people outside Tibet, I am very optimistic to regain our lost independence. This was also one of my consolations. Probably 1.2 million Tibetans died because of the direct effect of the Chinese invasion. There was a great destruction of the Tibetan heritage by the Chinese, especially during the cultural revolution and also starvation, suicide, imprisonment. Approximately 6000 monasteries were completely destroyed. We were forced to take daily so much filthy food, completely indigestible, we had to take such food. It was actually the waste, from the Chinese. It was uneatable food. So many people died because of it or of starvation.

Now I don't recall everything but I had to consume my own leather jacket bit by bit to survive. These are some of the main things that the Chinese were practicing in the way of repression.

Our consolation was that Tibet will be independent and that Tibet has a dynamic religious leader: the Dalai Lama. We have the right on our side, history is on our side. No matter how long it will take. What has happened will be heard all over the world and people will raise their voices against the Chinese. No matter how long it will take. For Tibet, there will be a peaceful sunshine, there will be a liberation from Chinese invasion. I visualized that whatever has happened to me, not only to me but also to the Tibetan people is the fruit of our karmic factors and that Chinese also will have to bear the consequences of their action. It is like the price that you have to pay for your previous misdeeds. In prison, I visualized this and practice many Buddhist teachings.

X: Are there any questions from the students?

Dr. Choedrak: I would like to speak to the students gathered here. They have to playa very important role in the development and for the benefit of human society. During one's studies, during one's schooling, the most essential, the most important thing to see is that what one's studies is for the benefit of the mankind, not for the destruction of mankind and its natural environment. One should practice tolerance, forgiveness and compassion. If one can practice this, this can definitively help not only in this life but also in the following ones.

Nowadays with the advancement of science and technology, there is so much material progress, but I would like to emphasize that if a student could do research to improve his mind, his consciousness, then he definitively can help the civilization, the modern society and also help other sentient beings.

I am very critical of the students who after their studies, are loosing their relationship with their parents: they do not obey anymore, they don't have maternal or paternal relationship anymore. This is very sad. During one's own childhood, a mother has cared for her own son or daughter. One has also to become one day a father or a mother. So we have to be very obedient and very careful about our behaviour. If one follows the advice of one own's parents, your children may follow the same.

The education is something very important.
The theme of education should be: love and compassion for mankind.
The Chinese have undergone so much education in their own country, but they are not taught to practice love and compassion.
The fruit of the education that the Chinese people have got is the consequence of what the Chinese Government has done to its own students during the pro democracy movement.
It is a very sad event. It shows the role of the mind in daily activities. If the Chinese people are taught to respect the life of mankind, definitely they will not cause destruction. One should be careful in one's own education.
I hope that with material progress, there will be also a progress in the mental attitude.

Any specific questions?

M: I would like to know if in the extraordinary life of Dr. Choedrak there is a special moment, a particular moment which remains always present.

Dr. Choedrak: In the scriptures, it is said that the unwelcome sufferings that one undergoes should be visualized as a rain fall pouring on you.
Human beings do not like suffering.
In a particular moment, I visualized that the rainfall falling on my body is the fruit of my previous misdeeds. It is the translations of my misdeeds and now I am experiencing their fruits. You can not escape, you have to bear it. But this particular rain will definitively wash away my misdeeds, my sins, and after washing my sins, I will be pure, clean: a man without defilement once again. The rain was washing my defilements. That is how I visualized this particular Bud¬dhist teaching, the rain was washing my defilement. Now I am going to be purified again. This is one of the most important visualizations, I have practiced.

Besides this, I went through so many tortures, so many thamzings: they bound my hands with a rope behind my back in a way to break the joints of the shoulders, it gives horrible pain. For this also, there is a meditation in order to endure the pain. But it is very difficult unless one has practiced this meditation before.

I want to emphasize the importance of tolerance for the physical body. So many prisoners died of the starvation, due to excessive intake of filthy, undigestable food, malnutrition and the daily tortures, the wind energy of their body got greatly disturbed, they became mad, lunatic, they started shouting, talking nonsense. 97% of the prisoners have not denounced the Dalai Lama and other dignitaries but 2 or 3 people have denounced because of the disturbances in their mental system, they have been talking like lunatics, like mad men. They have lost their own control of tolerance. If one practices tolerance, one can survive the greatest difficulties. So, tolerance is very important.

There are so many people who know Buddhist philosophy, not only Buddhist but many other systems of belief, there are so many who can speak fluently about these systems, but the speaking from the mouth is like ripples, like bubbles in the ocean. There are too many people like that. The practice, the implementation is like a drop of gold. It is very precious. Therefore one should emphasize the implementation of the teachings rather than speaking too much.

There is a quotation of the Dhammapada which says: "Throughout the day and the night, one has to find faults in oneself, do not find faults in others. Throughout day and night search your own mind, and realize happiness and peace. "

 C: How did Dr. Choedrak's medical training and his knowledge of the human body help him to survive?

Dr. Choedrak: During the period between 1961 and 1963, many people died of hunger, of starvation. In my prison in China 600 people died. In winter nearly 1215 prisoners died every day from starvation and hunger.

Outside the prison there were green fields where some medicinal flowers grew abundantly. This flower grows also well in the west. I don't know the exact botanical name. It is a yellow flower with leaves like blades (maybe one of the species of dandelion).
This particular flower helps digesting the food, it helps to maintain the harmony in the body system. I know that particular plant and I took it and also I advised my prison mates to take the same which helped them digest uneatable food particularly the waste food: sometimes they had to take even worms of their excretion. This is one thing.

One other thing is the practice of the meditation called tummo barza: this is the generation of heat in the body. This generation of heat helps cleansing the impurities produced by a particular food consumed by the body and its helps in dissolving the impurities and cleaning the toxies from the body. It keeps the body healthy, restores the heat in the body and regulates the body temperature.

Normally, the prisoners were not allowed to pass beyond 20 meters from the cell. H they would pass, they would be shot dead. Many people were meeting me daily for medical help. The Chinese guards became curious. So, they took me and accused me of falsely naming many plants and giving poison to the other prisoners. So I had to undergo thamzing and tortures again for this reason.
So, the two important things is the consumption of medicinal flowers and the practice of tummo barza. It helped me to survive through the difficulties. Is it clear?

X: Many Tibetans had to leave Tibet, they came to India with a new climate, specially in the South. They had to adapt to the new climate, so they were new ailments. In Auroville, we have the same problem, different temperature, different humidity than our countries of origin. Does Dr. Choedrak have any help to offer for this kind of adaptation, are there some remedies (especially food-wise)?

Dr. Choedrak: In order to adapt oneself to new climatic conditions, a new diet habit. Suppose you come from a different country and you come to Auroville which has a different climate (humid and hot), you have to adjust to the climate and the food. For the food, let's take an example: you are not used to take meat, and if in Auroville the daily consumption is meat. So, first do not take a lot of meat. You have to take bit by bit, slowly increasing the intake so that your stomach gets well adjusted to the meat. Finally you will be able to take meat and likewise you will get adjusted to a different food habit. You have to practice this.

Now, if you want to stop something. Suppose you are diabetic and you have to stop taking sugar. Do not stop suddenly. Stop gradually. Suppose you were taking three spoonfuls of sugar, you take two and a half, the next time two, then one, gradually cut down.
So the body can adjust to the climate also. Each season has its own potentialities to create disturbances in the body system. For example, when there is a lot of heat the heat inside the body is related to the heat outside the body. Inner and outer environment are related. You should adapt yourself. You should not take the food which raises the heat inside the body, instead you should take food which brings down the heat, you should take cold food. Like that, you can adjust to different climates, different conditions, different habits.

X: This is the last question. For a good receptivity in the body, Mother
insisted on good health. During or after certain deep emotional states, certain intense physical pains, the nervous system has a lingering and excessive receptivity and weakness. Do you have a special treatment to reinforce strength in the nerves?

Dr. Choedrak: One has to understand the cause and effect of the particular incident which brings down the receptivity and nervous system. Since every fruit has its own seed, the breaking down has its own cause. One has to first find the cause and one has to see if one can avoid the cause or not. Of course there are medicines in order to enforce the strength of the nerves, to bring peace in the nervous system. But it is better to eradicate the cause since the elimination of the cause will bring lasting harmony in the brain and the nervous system. Without cause, there will be no effect, without seed there is no fruit. One has to try to understand the cause. One has to practice tolerance and to accept the reality. Tolerance of what causes the disease. One's human body is very precious, it is like amrit, like nectar, like a precious gem from which one could get everything one wishes. Through human form, you get enlightenment, Buddhahood. Inside the brain, there are so many positive and negative factors one has to increase the positive factors and decrease the negative ones. This can bring peace inside you.

Consciousness is affected by disturbances. The brain is like an ocean of nerves, canals. The consciousness of the brain is the general consciousness or the gross consciousness. The subtle consciousness, the main consciousness is inside the heart. It can determine the positive and the negative factors. One has to understand this consciousness and definitively you can in this way increase the positive factors and decrease the negative.

X: We should thank Dr. Choedrak for his tolerance and for his time. He will stay up to Monday, we hope that not only he will help us, but also enjoy his stay.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Tens of Thousands of Chinese Tourists on the Indian Border

A few days ago, China Tibet News published an article entitled ‘Enjoying Prosperous Life’.
It described some worrying developments on the border with China in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Chinese government website reported: “In recent years, a series of tourism infrastructure construction projects have been implemented and constantly improved in Tsona County, Shannan City, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. Farmers and herdsmen, whose tourism reception capacity and service quality have been significantly enhanced, have unprecedented enthusiasms to participate in tourism industry.”
This development is taking at a time when the 19th-century Inner Line Permit is still a must for Indian tourists, visiting the Tawang District of Arunachal.
The infrastructure on the Chinese side is linked to several villages known as Xiaogang villages (the literal meaning of ‘Xiaogang’ is ‘moderately well-off’).
The astonishing news is that according to the website, a total of 55,943 people visited in 2018: “Legpo (Lepo) Valley scenic spot, the tourism revenue reached 25.64 million yuan RMB, realizing year-on-year growths of 41.6 percent and 60.5 percent respectively.”
Nearly 56,000 visited Lepo located a few kilometers north from the Line of Actual Control (LAC); it is difficult to realize that this village had only a few huts and probably less 50 inhabitants five years ago. (Khenzimane is the nearby border post and Zeminthang and Shoksen are the first Indian villages on the Indian side of the LAC).
The Chinese website adds: “In July 2019, Lepo Valley scenic spot was awarded with the title of ‘China Natural Oxygen Bar’.”
It must be tempting for the Chinese tourists.

What are the Xiaogang Villages?
For the Communist Party, an important event took place in 1978: 18 farmers in Xiaogang village, in Anhui Province, signed a secret agreement to divide collectively-owned farmland into individual pieces and drop the collectivization of the Great Leap Forward (GLF), which between 1958 and 1960 resulted in some 40 million casualties; in Xiaogang itself, 67 villagers out of 120 had died of starvation between 1958 and 1960.
Forty years later, the name ‘Xiaogang’ is been used for a different project: the building of a large number of ‘model’ villages in Tibet, along the border with India.
On October 19, 2018, the same China Tibet News had reported that since the beginning of the year, Tsona County, north of Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang District, has been “vigorously promoting the construction of border ‘Xiaogang’ villages’.
Already in 2018, Tsona County had invested 519 million yuan (US$ 74 million) in the construction projects of nine border villages, benefiting 1,961 people from 617 households. More than 40% of the project has then been completed, and an investment of 2.2 billion yuan (US$ 314 million) spent.
In May 2018, China Tibet News affirmed that Lepo, the first village in Tibet, north of the border 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.
Magmang is another hamlet.
The website said: "The construction of Magmang ecological civilization demonstration village began on March of 2014 and was completed on December. On January of 2015, the village was inaugurated and a year later, Magmang was awarded 'China's beautiful leisure village' by the Ministry of Agriculture."
China has 26 national key tourist attractions; the Lepo Valley, close to the Thagla ridge, which saw the first clashes between India and China in October 1962, is one of them.
The new tourist scheme, "Slowing down the speed of tour, enjoying the sea of azaleas in Lepo Valley", prolonged the peak season, explained the Chinese authorities.

A 1962 War Memorial
Near Lepo, north of the Thagla ridge of the 1962 fame, a war memorial can be found; it was the Forward Command Post of General Zhang Guohua, who commanded the PLA operations against India in 1962. His headquarter has been reconstituted and is opened to visitors. It is located in Marmang village, the other hamlet north of Lepo.
‘Information Warfare’ will certainly be an important part of any battle tomorrow.
This memorial is an instrument of disinformation.
The gazetted national-level historical site mentions the ‘Sino-India Self Defense Counter Attack Battles’; it paints the Indian troops as the 'attackers' in 1962; hotels are already mushrooming to tell this to the visitors.
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 at Khenzimane. He would certainly not recognize these villages.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Neighbour’s border envy

My article Neighbour’s border envy appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer.

Here is the link...

While China has undertaken multiple development projects near the Indian border, Delhi has been very slow and remains hesitant to see tourists in restricted areas

Recently, the Indian media was agog with news about the latest  deployment of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) close to the Indian borders. One website, the Indian Defence News, affirmed: “China strengthening military base near Uttarakhand’s Lipulekh Pass,” which is located near the tri-junction between Nepal, Tibet and India. It explained: “The new base has 20 parking hangars and also maintenance hangars. Medium-lift helicopters for the local Army aviation brigade have also been spotted… There are signs of a military build-up opposite Lipulekh Pass on the northeastern tip of Uttarakhand.” It cited some intelligence sources saying that the PLA had built a helipad close to the pass and also “installed two surveillance cameras, a Long Range Reconnaissance and Observation System (LORROS) and a solar panel.”
Some other reports mentioned model villages being built by Beijing near the Indian border. This is not new, though the scale should worry New Delhi. The information about Lipulekh Pass is probably linked to the new airport coming up near Purang (Taklakot); it will serve the Kailash/Manasarovar area.
On June 9, 2018, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the Tibetan Autonomous Region’s (TAR) provincial government announced that Tibet would soon have three new airports. An official communiqué stated: “Construction of the three airports, all above the altitude of 3,900 metres, should begin in 2019.” The new airports are to be located in Lhuntse county in Lhoka (called Shannan by the Chinese) area, north of the Upper Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh; the second will be between Tingri and Lhatse counties of Shigatse City, north of Zangmu, the border post with Nepal, and the last in Purang, near Lipulekh.
It was then announced: “The airports should be completed in 2021; by then, there will be eight airports in TAR.” The news agency added: “At present, the preparatory work for the three airports is under way. The preferred sites have been determined;” the idea is “to consolidate the border and to promote the deep integration of the military and the people.” While tourism and “cultural” industries remain the pillars of the so-called stabilisation, defence is also vital for the Chinese authorities — one of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet projects is the Military Civilian Integration (or “fusion”).
Another of Xi’s favourite schemes is to make “patriotic” Tibetans “the protectors of their sacred homeland.” The last two years have seen the mushrooming of model villages near the Indian border; they are known as “Xiaogang” or “moderately well-off villages.” The pretext for building more than 100 such border villages is “poverty alleviation.” Tibetans need to be pulled out of poverty (incidentally, is it not strange that 70 years after the arrival of the communists on the plateau and the so-called liberation of Tibet, the populations still lives in such pitiable conditions?).
But “poverty” is not the only motivation. Xi once famously declared: “Govern the nation by governing the borders; govern the borders by first stabilising Tibet; ensure social harmony and stability in Tibet and strengthen the development of border regions.” These villages are following the “double-support model city”, which translates into full military and civilian integration.
The authorities have started implementing the theory of their boss by providing decent housing to the villagers and enticing the local recalcitrant Tibetan population to their side. Local satraps have a new leitmotif, the inhabitants of China’s borders (with India) should be “the protectors of the sacred homeland and the builders of happy homes.” The construction of “model” villages on the Tibetan side of the Indian border, mainly north of Arunachal Pradesh and also in Himachal and Ladakh, is the outcome of this. Several senior communist leaders have visited these new villages, either north of Kibithu in the Lohit valley; in Metok, north of Upper Siang district; in Yume (also written Yumai), north of Takshing in Upper Subansari or in Lepo, Marmang and Tsona, north of Khenzimane and Tawang.
Take Metok County, for example. China Tibet News reported that there are 46 administrative villages (including one multi-ethnic inhabitation area consisting of Monpa, Lhopa, Tibetan or Han) with a total population of 13,725: “In 2018, the county’s GDP has reached 606 million yuan ($99 million); farmers and herdsmen’s per capita disposable income and cash income have reached 10,380 yuan ($1,687) and 8,833 yuan ($1,486) respectively.”
In October, 133 villagers belonging to 29 households moved into their new houses. Reports said how “all the township’s residents are living in free houses provided by the Government,” in Puma Changthang township, north of the Bhutan border. “Sharing a 25-km border with Bhutan, where the average altitude tops 5,300 metres above sea level, the Puma Changthang township is in Nagartse county; it is renowned as the world’s highest township.”
The report explained: “Resettlement in new housing provided by the Government is part of its efforts to ensure the entire population lives comfortably in border areas… Project construction includes villagers’ houses, party’s committee offices, village clinics, water supply and roads” and, of course, these “multi-ethnic” villages will welcome Han Chinese.
Take another example. It was reported that Tibetans in Bayi village of Nyingchi City, north of Arunachal Pradesh, have come together and jointly “built a beautiful hometown as well as a better life.” Incidentally, places called Bayi (or 8-1 for August 1, the PLA anniversary) are usually under the Army’s management.
The article said that by the end of 2016, 16 impoverished villagers were lifted out of poverty through pairing assistance (ie, with the support of a mainland province), through participation in the collective economy and self-employment: “Bayi Village improved farmers and herdsmen’s cultural living standards, supported the construction of a “cultural” square, a village library and also organised various cultural and sports activities such as Tibetan circle dance, tug of war, lifting stones or archery.”
But at the same time, a review committee in Tsona county warned: “All townships and villages must come together to improve the village rules and regulations [of the party], standardise the daily behaviour of the villagers and strengthen the rural revitalisation strategy goals.”
“Standardise the daily behavior” is ominous. On the Indian  side, everything moves slowly as usual. A welcome exception is the Sisseri River bridge in the Lower Dibang Valley of Arunachal Pradesh, recently inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. It will cut down travel time from Pasighat to Roing by about five hours. But the Government remains hesitant to see tourists in “restricted” areas. China does not have this problem.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

How Rafale verdict proved to be a win for India

My article How Rafale verdict proved to be a win for India appeared in The Mail Today/Daily O

Here is the link...

India is the only country where so many hurdles can be put in defence deals - it took only three months for Egypt to buy 24 Rafales in 2015.

The second week of November 2019 will be a marquee event in the annals of the Indian judiciary. Several important, long-pending issues were decided by the Supreme Court of India led by CJI Ranjan Gogoi (retd).
On November 9, the Supreme Court (SC) delivered a final settlement on the 70-year-old Ayodhya dispute in an important turning point for the nation. The judgment on the Rafale deal also has immense implications for the country's future, hopefully, creating a precedent and putting an end to politicians needlessly playing with the preparedness of the armed forces.Hurdles cast aside
"The Supreme Court has categorically rejected the review petitions filed subsequently against the order on merits bringing to a close an exercise of vilification and casting doubts on the defence acquisition process which has an adverse impact on the morale of the security forces," said a communiqué from the ministry of defence (MoD).

The judgment on the Rafale deal will hopefully put an end to politicians needlessly playing with the preparedness of the armed forces. (Photo: Reuters)
"It does appear that the endeavour of the petitioners is to construe themselves as an appellate authority to determine each aspect of the contract and call upon the court to do the same," the communiqué read, citing the court.
The court also said that one cannot compare apples and oranges, meaning only a simpleton can compare what is not comparable (moreover the choice of fighter planes is highly technical and tactical). Apart from the 'victory of truth', the judgment is, first and foremost, a victory for the Indian Air Force (IAF). After the Balakot airstrikes, then Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa, while analysing the outcome of the operations, asserted that the results would have been further tilted in India's favour if the Rafale jets had been inducted in time: "We had technology on our side, and we could launch precision stand of weapons with great accuracy," he said.
"In the proposed induction of the Rafale and S-400 surface-to-air missile system, in the next two-four years, once again the technological balance will shift in our favour," he added.
Unfortunately, many politicians do not look at the country's interests today. In this context, let us take a look at the history of the 'deal'.
While the initial request for information (RFI) for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) was issued in 2001, the Request for Proposal (RFP) asking interested parties to come forward, was only publicised in 2007; then the 'complications' started. Only in January 2012, after a five-year competitive process, was Dassault selected to supply 126 planes to the Indian Air Force (IAF). This took 11 years, but the saga was far from over. Of the 126, 18 planes were to be manufactured by Dassault in France, while the remaining 108 planes were to be built in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), under a Transfer of Technology (ToT) agreement; an impossible task.

New precedent set
Then, Modi sarkar decided to immediately get 36 fighter planes. Now, the court has clearly shown that L'Affaire Rafale only benefitted a few disgruntled politicians seeking political mileage during the Lok Sabha campaign. Without the court's intervention, each and every defence deal would have continued to be twisted for the personal gains of a few individuals. It is a fact that unfounded allegations managed to stall the entire defence procurement for the IAF. In January 2018, the MoD issued an RFI to procure 57 MCRA for India's new aircraft carrier: "Intended as day-and-night capable, all-weather, multi-role, deck-based combat aircraft which can be used for air defence, airto-surface operations, buddy refuelling, reconnaissance." This was put in hibernation due to the 'case'.
In April 2018, a new RFI for the purchase of 114 new jets was notified. Under the proposal, 18 jets would come in 'a flyaway condition. The rest were to be produced in India under the new 'strategic partnership' policy, ie, a joint venture between the selected foreign aviation major and its Indian partners. This was frozen pending litigation.

Focus on defence
To make things worse, the IAF needs to decommission its MiG 21s and MiG 27s fighter aircraft (purchased from Russia in the 1960s) by 2024. "The planes will be phased out on completion of their Total Technical Life (TTL) by 2024," the MoD said. However, the usual (non-political) 'delays' for procuring replacements, left India no choice but to extend the TTL of the MiG-21s by upgrading their turbofan engines, radars or avionics. This process cannot be extended forever.
Let us not forget that presently the IAF has only 31 flight squadrons as against its requirement of 42 to face two fronts. With the phasing out of the MiGs, it will be left with only 15-16 flight squadrons.
Undoubtedly, India is the only country in the world where so many hurdles can be put, often for fallacious reasons, in the defence procurement process - it took only three months for Egypt to buy 24 Rafales in 2015.
The 36 Rafales could have become a precedent to question each and every defence acquisition — by going to court. Now the air has been cleared. Ultimately, it is India's defence preparedness and the IAF which suffered; the SC verdict has rectified this, though the culprits have not been punished. Because who was laughing in the end?
China and Pakistan.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

The truth about Ladakh’s Shaksgam: Correcting historical wrongs in J&K

The Shaksgam Valley 'donated' to China in 1963
My article The truth about Ladakh’s Shaksgam: Correcting historical wrongs in J&K appeared in The Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle


A secret note prepared by the MEA’s historical division mentioned that ‘any such agreement will be illegal’

Soon after India reorganized the former state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) into the new Union Territories (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, China went ballistic.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the media: "China deplores and firmly opposes this. This is unlawful and void and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under Chinese actual control." He urged India to "earnestly respect Chinese territorial sovereignty and uphold peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”
China’s territorial ‘integrity’ refers not only to Beijing’s claims over the Aksai Chin and some other places up to (and in some cases beyond) the Line of Actual Control (LAC), but to the areas illegally ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs answered sharply: "We do not expect other countries, including China, to comment on matters that are internal to India, just as India refrains from commenting on the internal issues of other countries," declared the Ministry’s spokesman. Referring to the Shaksgam Valley, he pointed out that China had 'illegally' acquired Indian territories.
One understands why the new maps released by the Government irritate China, as this virtually opens up another sector to be negotiated along the Indo-Chinese disputed boundary.
In the new maps, the Leh district of Ladakh includes the districts of Gilgit, Gilgit Wazarat, Chilhas and Tribal Territory of 1947, in addition to the known areas of Leh and of course the Aksai Chin, occupied by China since the mid-1950s.
Why is the mention of Shaksgam an issue for Beijing?
An agreement was signed on March 2, 1963 between Pakistan and China about portions of Kashmir’s boundary with Xinjiang.
A secret Note prepared by the MEA’s Historical Division mentioned that “any such agreement will be ab initio illegal and invalid and will not bind India in any respect.” The Note observed that the preamble states that the parties have agreed to formally delimit and demarcate the boundary between Xinjiang and the contiguous areas of Pakistan; the latter based her right on the fact that these areas were under her ‘actual control’.
However as the Indian note explained: “Under international law, the right of entering into treaties and agreements is an attribute of sovereignty. Furthermore, a sovereign cannot presume to exercise sovereign functions in respect of territory other than its own. Having regard to the UN resolutions of 17 January 1948 and 13 August 1948 and 5 January 1949 (UNCIP Resolutions) it is clear that Pakistan cannot (and does not) claim to exercise sovereignty in respect of J&K.”
The 1963 MEA note clarified that according to the term of the UN Resolutions, “Pakistan cannot purport to exercise even ‘actual control’ over the defence of these areas.”
It quoted a statement of the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP): “The Commission did not ignore India’s claim to the right to safeguard the security of the State, nor did it put into question the legality of the Jammu and Kashmir Government” (UN Doc S/1430). In other words, the UN acknowledged the Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Hari Singh.
The legal conclusion was that “Pakistan’s claim to the ‘actual control’ ….can only mean that she has had recourse to a line of action which is illegal and inconsistent with the UN Resolutions,[it was] reaffirmed by her as late as 2 May 1962.” Occupying a land by force or war does not give the titles of that land to the occupiers.
The Historical Division commented further on Pakistan’s mala fides: “the conclusion of this ‘Agreement’ amounts to compromising the sovereignty of the state of J&K, which Pakistan has no business to do; even though Article 6 of the agreement includes provision for its renegotiation after the final settlement of the Kashmir question.”
It is strange that the Governments of China and Pakistan announced the agreement on the eve of important Indo-Pakistan talks on Kashmir.
On March 5, 1963, speaking about China during a Calling Attention Motion in the Lok Sabha, the Indian Prime Minister stated: “If one goes by these maps, Pakistan has obviously surrendered over 13,000 square miles of territory.”
Nehru rightly remarked: “The agreement claims to be provisional, and yet so much haste has been shown in concluding it. It is significant that it is not subject to ratification. Thus, the National Assembly, the press and the public of Pakistan have been given and will be given no opportunity to examine the terms of this agreement.”
About China, he added that: “in spite of its professions that it has never involved itself in the dispute over Kashmir or its absurd claim that the boundary negotiations have promoted friendship between the Chinese and Pakistani people and are in the interests of Asia and world peace, is directly interfering in Indo-Pakistan relations. By doing this, China, is seeking to exploit differences between India and Pakistan …to further its own expansionist policy.”
Unfortunately, India did not have the wisdom to break the negotiations with Pakistan at that time, though the note pointed out that Delhi objected to Article 1 which said that the boundary in this region “has never been formally limited”; already on May 10, 1962, Delhi had clarified that “the international boundary alignment in the sector west of the Karakoram Pass of the boundary of J&K State of India follows well-known natural features, has been recognized in history for all these years.”
Interestingly, the joint China-Pakistan survey of the ‘donated’ areas was conducted in1987 only, 24 years after the territory was offered to China; it means that in 1963, Pakistan did not even know the exact magnitude of her gift.
The traditional boundary runs along the watershed dividing the tributaries of the Yarkand river and that of the Hunza river; then it continues to the Kilik, Mintaka, Karchanai, Parpik and Khunjerab Passes. It later crossed the Shaksgam river and after passing the Aghil mountains, it follows the Aghil, Marpo and Shaksgam Passes up to the Karakoram Pass.
It was observed that no Chinese authority had ever reached these areas, “the Mir of Hunza (in Kashmir) exercised authority in this region and maintained posts and collected revenue.”
The conclusion was that Pakistan, by her own admission as well as by the UN resolutions, “has no right to act on behalf of any part of J&K. The UNCIP has clearly recognized the legality of the J&K Government and the right of India to safeguard the security of the State;” it was just an attempt by Pakistan to formally legalize her control over the northern areas of J&K. Sir Owen Dixon, who in 1950 had been nominated by the UN as the official mediator between India and Pakistan for Kashmir, had termed Pakistan’s action as “inconsistent with international law”.
The Historical Division concluded: “Since the basis of her claim to control over these areas has itself originated in illegalities, it is clear that she cannot use this illegal basis in order to substantiate her claims to negotiate on behalf of these areas.”
It is this historical wrong that the new maps published by the Government are trying to rectify …at least on paper.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Archives of Leh

My article The Archives of Leh appeared in the Edit Page of The Pioneer.


Here is the link...

It is perhaps not too late to put the history of India in its proper perspective and undo the blunders committed in the 1950s and 1960s

As an aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, the former State of Jammu & Kashmir has been reorganised into the new Union Territories (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The latter consists of two districts: Kargil and Leh. Subsequently, new maps have been prepared by the Surveyor-General of India showing the geographical outline of the new UTs; it is a welcome move by the Government to educate the people of India and the media (and hopefully, the biased foreign Press).
Interestingly, the Leh district of Ladakh includes the districts of Gilgit, Gilgit Wazarat, Chilhas and Tribal Territory of 1947, in addition to the known areas of Leh and, of course, the Aksai Chin, illegally occupied by China since the mid-1950s.
For several reasons, it is important that these maps have been updated. First there was often a discrepancy in the length of the Indo-China border on some Indian websites. Was the length 4,056 or 3,488 km?  The first figure is the only valid one as Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly the Gilgit agency) is legally a part of India. The Indo-China boundary starts at the trijunction of Afghanistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and Xinjiang to reach the Karakoram Pass and further runs through the Karakoram and Karatagh passes and along the Kunlun in the north, and through Lanak La and across the western part of the Pangong Lake and then along the ridge parallel to the Indus, before crossing the Indus south-east of Demchok. Hopefully the wrong figures will now be rectified.
The fact that large parts of Ladakh are today occupied by China explain Beijing’s aggressive stance. Speaking of the creation of the two UTs, Geng Shuang, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the media: “China deplores and firmly opposes this. This is unlawful and void and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under Chinese actual control.” He urged India to “earnestly respect Chinese territorial sovereignty and uphold peace and tranquility in the border areas.”
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs did not leave the unwarranted attack unanswered: “We do not expect other countries, including China, to comment on matters that are internal to India, just as India refrains from commenting on the internal issues of other countries,” declared India’s Ministry for External Affairs spokesman. Referring to the Shaksgam Valley, he pointed out that China “illegally” acquired Indian territories from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir through the 1963 China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement. That infamous pact was signed by Pakistan’s Minister of External Affairs and his Chinese counterpart. The new maps will irritate China no end, as it virtually opens another sector along the Indo-Chinese disputed boundary.


Map of the 1987 Survey of the areas 'donated' to China
A secret note prepared by the historical division of the Ministry of External Affairs mentioned that “any such agreement will be ab initio illegal and invalid and will not bind India in any respect.” The note observed that the preamble states that the parties have agreed to formally delimit and demarcate the boundary between Xinjiang and the contiguous areas of Pakistan, the defence of which was under  the actual control of Karachi; Pakistan based its right on the fact that these areas were under her “actual control.” However,  the Indian note explained: “Under international law, the right of entering into treaties and agreements is an attribute of sovereignty. Furthermore, a sovereign cannot presume to exercise sovereign functions in respect of territory other than its own. Having regard to the UN resolutions of January 17, 1948, August 13, 1948 and January 5, 1949 (UNCIP Resolutions) it is clear that Pakistan cannot (and does not) claim to exercise sovereignty in respect of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Very few, even in India, realise the importance of this point. On March 5, 1963, speaking about China during a Calling Attention Motion in the Lok Sabha, the Prime Minister said: “In spite of its professions that it has never involved itself in the dispute over Kashmir or its absurd claim that the boundary negotiations have promoted friendship between the Chinese and Pakistani people and are in the interests of Asia and world peace, it is directly interfering in Indo-Pakistan relations. By doing this, China is seeking to exploit differences between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir question to further its own expansionist policy.”
Of course, since then, China has become Pakistan’s Iron brother, but the motivations have remained the same. Today’s publication of proper maps should only be a first step.
The logical follow-up should be to repatriate all the archives pertaining to Ladakh and the Gilgit Wazarat, to Leh, where a place should be dedicated to their preservation; it is crucial as the history of large chunks of the border with China lies in these records.
During the negotiations of “the Officials of India and China” in 1960, the Indian side noted: “A systematic settlement of revenue for the whole of Ladakh up to the traditional alignment was made during the time of Mehta Mangal who was Wazir or Governor between 1860 and 1865; and this settlement was revised during the period of his successor Johnson (1870-1881) and Radha Kishen Kaul (1882). The lists of villages in both the Revenue Assessment Report of 1902 and the Settlement Report of 1908 mentioned 108 villages, including Tanktse, Demchok, Chushul and Minsar... The Preliminary Report of Ladakh Settlement of 1908 made clear that these areas were part of Ladakh.”
The Indian side submitted a large quantity of such documents. These records will show that India exercised control over the various frontier areas and collected revenues from the border villages till Independence.
These records should be kept in Leh; it should also include the history of the Gilgit Wazarat and other territories now shown under the Ladakh district and how Shaksgam Valley was illegally offered to Communist China.
This would greatly help the project of the Ministry of Defence to write the history of India’s borders, the project for which was recently announced: “The work will cover various aspects of borders, including tracing its making; making and unmaking and shifting of borders; role of security forces; role of borderland people encompassing their ethnicity, culture and socio-economic aspects of their lives.”
It is perhaps not too late to put the history of India in its proper perspective and undo the blunders committed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Why India's northern borders are threatened

My article Why India's northern borders are threatened appeared in Mail Today/Daily O

Here is the link... 

While the world speaks of artificial intelligence and facial recognition, India can't find better ways to monitor unwanted elements on the borders.

In the months to come, the 4056-kilometrre long India-China border will be in the news; probably for wrong reasons.
Despite last month’s ‘Chennai Connect’ between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping at Mamallapuram, Beijing continues its aggressive stance on Ladakh; the formation of two separate Union Territories for J&K and Ladakh seems to have irritated Beijing no end.

A sore point for China
Geng Shuang, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the media that "China deplores and firmly opposes this. This is unlawful and void and this is not effective in any way and will not change the fact that the area is under Chinese actual control;" he further urged India to "earnestly respect Chinese territorial sovereignty and uphold peace and tranquillity in the border areas.”
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs did not leave the unwarranted attack unanswered: “We do not expect other countries, including China, to comment on matters that are internal to India, just as India refrains from commenting on the internal issues of other countries," said the Indian spokesman. He requested China to stick to the ‘Political Parameters and Guiding Principles’ jointly agreed by the two sides to proceed on the border issue in 2005; the Indian official also pointed out that China ‘illegally’ acquired Indian territories from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) through a China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963; he was referring to the Shaksgam Valley.
If China decides to play this game, India could easily point out (with solid historical proofs) that Eastern Turkestan (now Xinjiang) was militarily annexed by the Peoples’ Republic of China in October-December 1949 and Tibet was occupied a year later.
In the present context, it is vital for India to develop its Northern borders, to open new roads, provide better telecom facilities, decent health services and education infrastructure for the local populations, who have already started migrating in large numbers. One solution to stop the hemorrhage is sustainable tourism.
Pema Khundu, the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh created a stir on Twitter; he was seen riding a buggy, near the Tibet border, north of Tawang; the purpose of the adventurous drive over the hilly terrains, was to promote tourism; Kiren Rijiju, the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs accompanied Khandu; they rode an ATV Polaris for a distance of 107 km from PT Tso (also known as Madhuri lake) to the remote village of Mago. In a tweet, Rijiju mentioned the scenic beauty: “The state, mostly habituated over high altitudes of mountain ranges, is replete with stunning natural delights. The hilly areas also pose a good scope for adventure sports over snow laden valleys and glistening scenic beauties of natural lakes.”
Though roads are slowly coming up, the development infrastructure still remains far slower than in Tibet, although from Ladakh to Arunachal, the government is finally taking measures to tackle the problem. But thanks to a ‘dual use’ approach, China has done remarkably well to develop its side of the borders; every piece of infrastructure can be used by the civil administration, for example to accommodate tourists (last year, some seven million visited Nyingchi, the prefecture bordering Arunachal Pradesh) or by the People’s Liberation Army, when required.

Boost border growth
Last week, China Daily announced that 133 villagers from 29 households had been resettled at Puma Changthang, a village north of Bhutan: “Sharing a 25-km border with Bhutan where the average altitude tops 5,300 meters above sea level, the Puma Changthang township is renowned as the world's highest township.” The article noted that China’s objective was to make these border areas prosper; some 200 such model villages are said to have been built close to India’s border over the past three years.
In India, everything goes slowly, though efforts are made. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently inaugurated the strategically located ‘Col Chewang Rinchen Setu’, a bridge built over River Shyok, connecting Durbuk and Daulat Beg Oldie in Eastern Ladakh. The Minister reiterated “the Government’s unwavering commitment to bolster border infrastructure to effectively deal with any threats that undermine the peace and tranquillity in the country.” At the same time, he announced that the Siachen glacier base-camp will be opened to tourism.
Both strategic and economic development need to go hand in hand.
Another example, the government has recently approved the construction of 18 border tracks along the border. Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kishan Reddy called it a critical infrastructure to enhance the capability of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

Spruce up Arunachal
Unfortunately, it is far from enough.
While being firm with China and getting ready for the worse, new ways to diffuse the tensions are tried, for example India and China will have 'coordinated patrols' in disputed areas along LAC, such as the Fish-Tail 1 & 2 in Arunachal Pradesh. According to The Hindustan Times: “India made the proposal for coordinated patrolling at a high-level meeting between the Indian Army and the PLA in June.”
Another factor is: looking after the border populations; a gesture shows how keen the locals are to be integrated: the residents of 10 villages of Upper Siang (Arunachal Pradesh) have recently decided not to claim compensation for their land for the construction of a road to improve the connectivity to the border; this will greatly help the construction of a proposed 150km-long Yingkiong-Bishing two-lane highway; Bishing, the last Indian village near the McMahon Line, is home to around 100 people from the Memba tribe.
But in many other ways, India still lives under the British Raj, the most blatant example is the Inner Line system which still hampers the development of the State. It is difficult to understand that while the world speaks of Artificial Intelligence or facial recognition, the Indian State can’t find a better way to monitor unwanted elements on the borders.
In the meantime, China will continue to put pressure.

Monday, November 4, 2019

The Ninth Panchen Lama and China

The Ninth Panchen Lama with Chiang Kai-Chek and 'Young Marshal' Zhang Xueliang
The Dalai Lama vs the Panchen Lama
During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the main factor which weakened the Tibetan State was the dispute between the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama. The differences between the two Lamas were fully exploited by the Chinese to their own advantage. The British themselves were not innocent in the affair. The split between the Ninth Panchen Lama and the Thirteenth Dalai Lama began over a trivial matter of taxation, although it involved the important issue of national security and the financing of the army.
Between Simla Convention in 1913 until the early twenties, Tibet had been waging a constant war with China in Kham Province of Eastern Tibet. This war cost the Tibetan Government dearly. Even when the British provided arms and ammunition to Lhasa, the British had to be paid.
The Dalai Lama’s objective was to build a strong army for defence based on the British model of military training.
From the start two main ‘lobbies’ tried to oppose the changes; their objections were not only ideological, but primarily with regard to distribution of power and who would pay to raise the Army.
Things took a turn for the worse when it became clear that the monasteries would have to contribute from the revenue of their estates.
When the Tibetan Government in Lhasa decided to unilaterally tax the Tashilhunpo, the seat of the Panchen Lamas, for a quarter of the Army’s expenses, it provided the needed excuse to spark off the old dispute between Lhasa and the monastery. The question of taxation brought many other problems to the surface but the main one was the issue of the administrative autonomy of different provinces and the large estates in Tibet.
The Tashilhunpo administration regarded Lhasa’s decision to impose this new taxation as interference in its internal affairs: the Tashilhunpo considered itself a local government and resented being treated as a vassal by Lhasa. This may well have been one of the points, apart from collection of taxes that the Dalai Lama wanted to make: there was only one Government of Tibet, that of the Ganden Phodang headed by the Kashag with its seat in Lhasa.
Relations between Lhasa and Shigatse deteriorated when in 1917, Lhasa decided to levy a new tax on the Tashilhunpo’s estate in Gyantse district. Again the Panchen Lama’s administration informed Lhasa that since they could not afford to pay the tax, they would not pay it.
When the Panchen Lama took the matter to the British Government, the situation turned sour. The Panchen Lama then decided to leave Tibet for China. He made it a point to declare that “he did not want to further embarrass the Dalai Lama … [I am leaving] for a short period to make it easier for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.”
The Panchen Lama reached China in February 1924.
The Chinese were delighted to welcome him. He was received with full honours by the Emperor and although the Chinese were very much engaged in their own civil war, they felt confident that with the Panchen Lama’s card in their hand, they could again have a role to play in Tibetan affairs.
The departure of the Panchen Lama, who was highly revered by the Tibetan people all over the country, was considered a bad omen. He was known to all as a gentle and very erudite Lama. His departure somehow strengthened the conservative forces in Lhasa. The old habit of keeping Tibet closed to the outside world again prevailed.
The split between the two religious leaders was made full use of by the Chinese government to ensure its control over Tibet. The saga continued with the succeeding Dalai Lama (Fourteenth) and Panchen Lama (Tenth) and still continues today.
The differences between the two Lamas was symbolic of the division between those who thought that Tibet should assert its independence — build a strong Army and have an independent foreign policy — and those who believed in a more traditional relationship with China.


An Article in the Chinese Media
China Tibet Online recently published an article on the Ninth Panchen Lama's first visit to Nanjing, the seat of the National government.
“At the beginning of May 1931, the capital of the National Government, Nanjing, experienced spring rain. The mission of the Ninth Panchen Lama to Nanjing was to attend the nation’s most important meeting, the National Convention for the first time,” explained the website.
The arrival of the Panchen Lama in the Nationalists’ capital was described in detail: “the National Government has made extremely elaborate arrangements for the occasion. …The car [of the Lama] had ‘welcome’ characters; it was decorated with apricot yellow silk.” Inside the car, the seats were also covered with apricot yellow silk;” incense was burning around.
Ma Fuxiang, chairman of the Mongolian and Tibetan Committee, told the Panchen Lama as the latter arrived: "Despite the rain today, the number of people welcoming you are very large, a committee is coming to Beijing [to receive you]; the masses are also enjoying your presence."
The Ninth Panchen Lama answered with a smile: "Spring Rain is good."
The political activities of the Panchen Lama, who was for the first time in the capital soon became the focus of the media attention, observed the article.
On May 5, 1931, the opening ceremony of the National Convention took place. The Panchen Lama, who wore a yellow satin robe, sat in the guest seat; he was ‘dazzling’, according to a Chinese report; he declared that though he was far away from his people, he had to come for the grand meeting and meet the national representatives.
After the opening ceremony, the Ninth Panchen Lama went to visit the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum and depose a wreath; he conveyed to the outside world his firm support for the ‘Five-Nation Republic’ concept.

Ma Fuxiang, 'Young Marshal' and the Panchen Lama
A month later, the Ninth Panchen Lama visited again the Sun Yat-Sen's Mausoleum; a pair of golden carvings from Shenyang was presented to him in Sun’s Mourning Hall; the carvings were made of bronze and wrapped in gold foil.
On May 16, during a military parade, the Ninth Panchen Lama was seen near Chiang Kai-shek “which is quite meaningful,” noted the article.
On May 25, the Ninth Panchen Lama delivered a speech in the Grand Hall of the Central Party in Nanjing in honour of Sun Yat-Sen. In his speech, he declared: “Nine years have passed since I arrived in the mainland. I have come to the capital to see the political prosperity and the spirit of the National Assembly. I am optimistic about the future of the country. If the government loses Tibet [to the Tibetan government], I will inevitably be sad. I hope the government can use its political power to prevent this. I hope that the government will pay attention to the suffering of the frontier people.”
He clearly wanted Nationalist China to help him to return to Tibet.
He hoped that the Central Government would treat equally all ethnic groups in the country [China]. His sincere support to the central government deeply touched the government and the people, said a report.
Ma Fuxiang, chairman of the Mongolian and Tibetan Committee, wrote a secret report about this to the Central Committee on June 21, 1931.
The article also noted that the Panchen Lama was well-versed in teaching religion and that the Tibetans were deeply rooted in [Buddhism]: “In order to publicize the central government decrees and soothe the Buddhist people in the local lama temples, we plan to invite the special Panchen Erdeni to be the ambassador in Xuanhua, and to choose the appropriate location in Qinghai and Xikang provinces to organize all the administrative matters.”
Does it mean that the Nanjing government planned to have a separate administration outside Central Tibet to manage the affairs of the Land of Snows?
Probably because Nanjing promised to make internal arrangements, provide the necessary funds, and planned for the annual banquet of the Panchen Lama; the President of China had however to approve the details of these measures.
On June 24, the Ninth Panchen Lama, after his first visit to Nanjing “was highly praised by the National Government and given the highest reputation …because he respected the peaceful reunification. He was awarded the title of ‘Huguo Xuanhua Guanghui Yuanjue Master’ [the Grand Master who Protects the Country and Propagates its Values]”.
On the same day, the Panchen Lama wrote a letter to the top leaders of the National Government, in a deep and affectionate manner and self-humility; the commentary said: "There is nothing but a deep understanding of the country.”
On June 27, 1931, the Nanjing National Government sent an ambassador to meet the Panchen Lama: “the Ninth Panchen Lama complied with the customs of the Qing Dynasty, and sincerely thank the National Government for the recognition of his country [Tibet]” noted the report.
Then, the chairman and the members of the National Government took the seats: “The Ninth Panchen Lama went to the Chairman, exchanged khata, and then went to the interview room: “The Chairman [Chang kai-shek?] is seated, the inner long left seat, the chairman of the Mongolian Tibetan Committee, the right seat, the Panchen."
At 10 am in the morning on July 1, 1931, the Panchen Lama was awarded the title "Master of Protection of the People's Republic of China" in the Grand Hall of the Nanjing National Government.
Dai Jitao, Ma Fuxiang, Chen Guofu, Kong Xiangxi and other national government officials were present. The Panchen Lama wore yellow clothes: “When he slowly entered, he was accompanied by site military music to the auditorium.”
The ceremony was presided over by the acting representative of the National Government on behalf of the Chairman [Chiang?]; he delivered a speech and hoped that the Panchen Lama "will carry forward the light, and follow the government's intention." The Panchen Lama spoke of "Piously Praying for the Protection of the Country Based" and said: "There is only one religion, praying sincerely, and protecting [the nation]."
Photographer witnessed this important historical moment.
The National Government presented a gift to the Panchen Lama who stayed in a Guest House in the heavily guarded headquarters of the General Command: “It shows that the National Government attaches great importance to the safety of the Ninth Panchen Lama.”
After the ceremony was completed, "all the dignitaries and journalists shook hands with the Panchen Lama and congratulated him."
The article concluded by saying: “The high-standard courtesy and the respect for the patriotic Buddhist leaders at the national level further strengthened the patriotic heart of the Ninth Panchen Lama to fully safeguard national unity and territorial integrity.”

Zhang Xueliang
Incidentally, there is a photo of the Ninth Panchen Lama with Chiang Kai-shek and Zhang Xueliang known as the ‘Young Marshall’, who was the effective ruler of Northeast China and much of northern China after the assassination of his father, Zhang Zuolin (the ‘Old Marshal’).
During the 1936 Xian Incident, Zhang arrested and briefly imprisoned Chiang Kai-shek demanding that Chiang should start fighting the Japanese rather than the Communists (and have a United Front against the Communists). At that time, the Japanese had already taken over Manchuria. Zhou En-lai intervened and negotiated the release of Chiang Kai-shek. However, later Chiang turned the tables and got his revenge by arresting the ‘Young Marshall’ who remained under KMT house arrest till 1949 on the Mainland and later in Taiwan. Zhang eventually died in the US in 2001.
He is today a hero for Communist China …like the Ninth Panchen Lama.

The New Chinese Panchen Lama
Visiting the Mausoleum of the Yellow Emperor in Huangling, Yan'an, Shaanxi, Gyaltsen Norbu, the Eleventh Panchen Lama selected by China, recently offered baskets of flowers and a khata to the Huangdi Mausoleum. He purchased a 'prayer card' and wrote: "the prosperity of the motherland, national unity, and people's happiness," was his wishes.
He also said that patriotism and love education was in his heart: "Protecting the country and benefiting the people is my mission. No matter what kind of social position I am in, my initial mission will not change. I will always move in this direction."
He will soon be a hero in China too, like his predecessor.

Monday, October 28, 2019

How Xi Jinping crossed the Nepal hurdle

My article How Xi Jinping crossed the Nepal hurdle appeared in Mail Today/DailyO

Here is the link...

Important projects impacting India's security were inked between China and Nepal.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping boarded his Hongqi limousine in Mamallapuram, he was on his way to the airport and Nepal. Official Chinese media had announced that he would sign an extradition treaty à la Hong Kong with Nepal, partly to squeeze the Tibetan refugees living in the erstwhile Himalayan kingdom.

Kathmandu warned

It was presumed that the 10-hour stop in Kathmandu would be a cakewalk for the all-powerful general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) who was to meet Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, himself co-chairman of the Nepal Communist Party.
Before the visit, Oli had told Xinhua that Nepal was committed to strengthening its friendship with China and expanding the bilateral ties under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Though the two sides signed some 18 bilateral cooperation documents and agreed to elevate their relationship to a strategic partnership of cooperation, combined with an ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity, the extradition treaty was never signed.
However, the Chinese media called President Xi's short visit (the first of a Chinese President in 26 years) a 'grand success', even if Kathmandu decided to shelve the treaty and a few other proposals, particularly to build border roads, at the last minute.
Nepal dropped some of its plans "following apprehensions they could infringe on its sovereignty", according to a financial daily. Instead of the extradition treaty, a milder pact on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters was signed, it added. There were apparently apprehensions "in sections of the Nepalese government that the extradition treaty will be used to clamp down against Tibetans and deportation of Tibetans to China," according to the newspaper. President Xi was furious; he warned that those not respecting the 'One China' policy would be crushed. According to Chinese state media, Xi told the Nepali PM during his stay in Kathmandu: "Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones. And any external forces backing such attempts at dividing China will be deemed by the Chinese people as pipe-dreaming." It is indeed rare for a head of state to use such words.
"While the immediate context would have been the Tibet issue… China watchers also saw it as a wider warning that applied to Hong Kong as well after more than four months of civil unrest and street violence," the South China Morning Post commented. The idea of National Defence University (NDU) similar to the Indian National Defence College, which had been discussed before the visit, was also dropped due to the Opposition's protests.

Key projects on track
However, important projects impacting India's security were inked, particularly the enhancement of the trans-Himalayan connectivity network which will eventually allow more Nepali goods to go to China: "We are concentrating ourselves on economic development through the BRI and other bilateral projects, China is our largest supporter," the Nepali PM declared. While the train from Shigatse to the Nepal border in Kyirong is coming soon, a feasibility study will now start to prolong the line to Kathmandu. "The plateau railway… is considered one of the world's most difficult railways to engineer. Now, the rail link is finally going to become a reality," The Global Times observed.
The Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece argued that a cross-Himalayan connectivity network "will have a far-reaching impact throughout Asia, achieving a decades-long dream: Connecting the Chinese and Indian economies." Though Delhi is probably not informed, China has India in mind while bringing the train to the Nepali capital: "The road to regional economic integration is always bumpy due to complex geopolitical issues, but we believe the three Asian nations can finally find a solution." Isn't it amazing that China is making plans involving India without Delhi's knowledge?

New developments
The Ratamate-Rasuwagadhi-Kyirong 400KV cross-border transmission line which will be constructed through a government-to-government (G2G) model shows that despite the extradition treaty fiasco, Nepal and China remain very close; interestingly it "will not be hampered even if the project suffered losses during the construction of the project," commented myRepublica. Meanwhile, the Second China Tibet Trans-Himalaya Forum for International Cooperation took place in Lulang, north of the Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh, China Daily reported. Here, China discussed the Himalayan connectivity with Nepal, Pakistan and Mongolia. "The forum is expected to help the region push forward its efforts to become an important gateway to South Asia and to build the Trans-Himalaya economic zone to fully integrate it into the Belt and Road Initiative," said the organisers.
Pakistan was represented by Naghmana Alamgir Hashmi, its ambassador to China, while Gobinda Bahadur Karkee, the Nepali consul general in Lhasa spoke for her country. Jiang Jie, a member of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region's Communist Party said: "We will stick to President Xi Jinping's concept of neighbouring diplomacy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness." Though the cancellation of the extradition treaty was a sign that Nepal can still take decisions on its own, the other projects are bound to change the balance in the region.
India needs to watch attentively.