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Liberation of Tibet's Five Fingers

posted Oct 24, 2011, 12:01 AM by SACRIR -USA

Ajoy Chatterjee - 9/28/2011

“An army without culture is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy” --- Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong, the first Chairman and President of the independent People’s Republic of China, had spent more time to assess weakness of India than Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Premier of independent India, wasted in apprehending China’s strength. Nehru remained confused on whether China's strength was communism or Han nationalism. His fantasy with ideological supremacy of western liberalism over eastern nationalism got further wild with a stroke of Chinese version of communism. Nehru was so scared and averse to nationalism that he was up with swords to crush Indian homegrown center-right nationalist movement under banners of Hindu Mahasabha and Bharaitya Jana Sangh.


On the other hand, Mao’s organization believed in the existence of two contesting winds – Eastern and Western. And every landmass kissed by the Eastern wind, essentially, is or should be Chinese. Mao looked down upon Nehru as undeserving, a sycophant, in servitude to the Western wind. The biggest of the issues with Nehru was that, he failed to gain confidence of both the leftist and rightist camps in India. Gandhian madhyapantha (the Middlepath) is a philosophy, not necessarily a diplomatic success sutra – he could never realize this truth. His pre-independence struggle with Jinnah over ‘political’ space did cost him Muslim support. His post-independence rivalry with indigenous nationalists alienated him from ‘political’ Hindus. His flashy liberal mind drew him closer to the US. His left-centrist cerebrum made him march with the USSR. India took the first step toward being a ‘confused state’ under Nehru.

Possibly the best evaluation of Nehru was made by U.S President Eisenhower who explored him enough in a Pennsylvania farm during the former’s second America trip in 1956. Eisenhower was perplexed at the Indian premier’s love for American condescendingness while at the same time his soft corner toward the abhorrent USSR and China. And thus termed him “a personality of unusual contradictions”. On the other hand, Mao had his eyes fixed on expanding Chinese grip over Asia. Communism was a mere tool for it.

Mao declared Tibet to be the palm of China whereas Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and North East Frontier Association (NEFA, modern Indian province of Arunachal Pradesh) as its five fingers and it is China’s responsibility to ‘liberate’ them all. Nehru, out of laziness and upragmatic whirl of ideologies, kept believing that China had no reason to be hostile toward India, even when China ‘liberated’ Tibet oppressively.

Nehru was among the first leaders in the United Nations to recognize People’s Republic of China in 1950 that left the West surprised. But he was not alive to realize this callousness till 1975 as China denied recognition to Sikkim’s accession to India. He got a harder blow of betrayal from his Chinese counterpart during his lifetime, though. In the form of Sino-Indian War, 1962.

The first offensive launched by China was across MacMahon Line (international boundary between India and China to the south of Tibet) into Tawang frontiers of NEFA and then across the remnants of Johnson Line (international boundary between India and China to the north of Tibet) through Rezang Pass of Ladakh. Ladakh and NEFA were the two ‘fingers’ who permanently aligned themselves with India; China was desperate to annex them. In spite of erecting huge resistance, it was an unprepared battle for Indian troops. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China succeeded to advance and grab tracts in AksaiChin, which essentially was Indian land till then.

There were attempts to establish treaty after both sides incurred considerable loss to human lives and exchequer. But things started deteriorating again when Nehru rejected Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai’s claims on MacMahon Line. The diplomatic failure of Nehru was neither winning a strong support from the US and UK nor getting the feeblest of backing from the USSR. Ancient Chinese proverb says ‘before the Eastern Wind would prevail over the western winds, it will triumph over eastern ones’. Perhaps it was the intrinsic strength in Indic wind that still ensured prayer flags of Ladakh and NEFA flutter on their natural Indian habitat.

Amidst this pandemonium of Sino-Indian tussles, the Chinese initiated coveted diplomatic talks with another ‘finger’ – the sovereign kingdom of Nepal. Monarch Mahendra of Nepal was offered with the Chinese proposal to protect of his kingdom. But the king acted as if he foresaw it. China had to return without much success as Mahendra refused to be the buffer state for China. Nepal’s language, culture, religion and festivals are far closer to that of India. India was overwhelmed at this gesture of Nepal and opened its borders with it for flow of trade.

The little ‘finger’ Sikkim, though retained its autonomous status for long since the British left in 1947, popular King Tashi Namgyal of the sacred Chogyal dynasty signed a suzerainty pact with India in 1950. After Tashi, subsequent Chogyals eroded their capital of popularity fast enough to pave way for the rise of progressive Kazi Lhendup Dorjee to form Sikkim National Congress. Kazi realized the need to join India on obvious choice. Sikkimese citizens could never have any appetite toward China for its demonic atrocities in Tibet, the root of Sikkim. In 1975, Sikkim joined Indian confederation as Kazi’s party won a unanimous poll.

Bhutan’s long cultural relations of Buddhism with India dates back to 9th century through the migrating Vajrayana monks. Though India inherited the British suzerainty on Bhutan post-1947, it gradually transitioned as a partner of Bhutan from being a big-brother. 2007 Indo-Bhutan treaty is seen as a strong Indian patronage toward Bhutan’s move for democracy. Bhutan maintains its watertight Tibetan Buddhist identity and hence feels safe with India than China.

But the Red Dragon could never give up its dreams of resurrecting its Eastern Wind over ‘Five Fingers of Tibet’. Since 2009, border areas of Ladakh and Arunachal have been experiencing regular audacious Chinese intrusions. They have engineered a Maoist uprising with prolonged bloodshed in Nepal, resulting in an overturn of pro-India Hindu monarchy. They have been constructing mega-dams over the Tsang Po River that flows as lifeline through Arunachal and Assam, as the Brahmaputra. The Chinese have laid out superhighways along the borders, to the rim, for easy and efficient military logistics. They do object in international forums when Premiers of India or the Exiled Government of Tibet visits Arunachal. There have been instances of issuing Chinese staple visas to people of Indian province of Jammu and Kashmir, which exposes China's future outlook on Kashmir.

Manmohan Singh government is sleeping on these phenomena in the same way Nehru did. India is neither responding diplomatically nor adequately, fearing a second war that could be retrogressive to India’s economic bull-run perceptions. Well, the same fear could not avoid the first one and might not escape from another in near future. But will the history repeat itself? Can the ‘Five Fingers’ be shielded from being severed in the name of 'Liberation'? Or, can the world ever think of true liberation of mainland Tibet? Will the Eastern Wind of peace and democracy ever prevail over Eastern Wind of red ambitions? Answers are unknown. Both the countries will, perhaps, experience a bitter decade of tumultuous relationship over Tibet's 'five fingers'.

Afghanistan: A Hurried Military Withdrawal Dissolves its Own Purpose

posted Jun 23, 2011, 12:35 AM by SACRIR -USA   [ updated Aug 28, 2011, 10:12 PM ]

(SACRIR Desk: Geopolitics)

By Ajoy Chatterjee and Jonathan Baker For SACRIR

Democrats argue, initial drawdown of 10,000 troops from Afghanistan is not adequate on Obama's presidential promises. We all want our troops back home. But if Obama pays heed to Democrat pressure and accelerates US withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan it will defeat the whole purpose of having our troops there for so long.

A retreat of forces, however phase-wise it can be, will see a return of Taliban with the same graduation. Needless to say, remnants of military presence of UK, Australia and NATO partners will soon follow US footsteps. But is Afghanistan ready for being unshielded? People's government headed by Hamid Karzai often itches with decision of delayed withdrawal of troops. But the government does not know what they are heading to. Karzai is clueless what to do next.

Afghan state military has known pro-Taliban lobbies. There are scattered instances of resurrection of Taliban in the southern and southeastern stretches, between Herat and Kandahar. Amrullah Saleh, the former Director of Afghan National Security foresaw this danger and had the right plan to deal with them. But he was, surprisingly,  made to quit by Karzai. With this, tensions between the anti-Taliban Massoud faction of United Front and Karzai have grown too.

Karzai seems not  very fond of combative strategies of United Front, but again does not have his own concrete plans too. A devil like Taliban can hardly be won with a humane-faced government alone.

The bordering country Pakistan which had sheltered Osama bin Laden for about a decade has its own ambitions with Afghan territory. Pakistan is not controlled by its elected ministers but by a pro-jihad hardliner Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Who can deny, the regular secret meetings between ISI and Taliban. Who can not suspect what ex-ISI chief Ashfaq Kayani's agenda was. Saleh of Afghan National Security was well aware of Pakistani design to destabilize Karzai government. But did he pay for it? Was his forced resignation a Karzaite tribute to Pakistan?

Taliban is waiting on increasing absence of US and NATO troops. A tripartite assault by Taliban, ISI and pro-Taliban lobby within Aghan Army along with lack of realism and decisiveness is poised to bring Afghanistan back to where it was needful of NATO assistance.

At least 1,500 US military members have died and at least 12,000 have been wounded in Afghanistan since 2001. Whom did they fight for? What was this huge sacrifice and gigantic expense for? For a battle won to be lost again?

Obama administration must withdraw troops but it must be calculated, as gradual as it requires, with risks mitigated. It also has to influence Afghan government to engage the other democracy India, as democracy heals.  Not Jihad. India has already been involved in massive reconstruction and restoration projects on infrastructure, education and health in Afghanistan. They must have military presence too. Any prospect of chaos in Afghanistan salivates Pakistan and endangers security of India.

US must cut down this burden on its tax-payers. But, US must not lose. Taliban must not resurface. We can not afford the rise of Osama II.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Common

The Volcano beneath South Sudan

posted May 9, 2011, 1:15 PM by Ajoy Chatterjee   [ updated Aug 28, 2011, 10:13 PM by SACRIR -USA ]

(SACRIR Desk: Social Dev & Geopolitics)

Reproduced from the Morung Express
(Ref.)
- By Ajoy Chatterjee, SACRIR

The referendum for independence of South Sudan concluded on January 15th. The popular mandate catapulted a collective dream toward the much awaited freedom, off the yoke of a presumptively terrorist state Sudan. The referendum came exactly five years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was accorded in 2005 between a cornered Government of Sudan and South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement. A majority on this planet joins the South Sudanese people in their moment to rejoice.



South Sudan’s sovereignty is mere a matter of time. People who fled to distant shores in search of peace are now ecstatic of a peaceful future in their homeland. More than 2000 families have started returning back to the swampy tracts of the White Nile. But the question pops up, can South Sudan ensure, rather sustain peace?

A former Sudanese diplomat to Japan, Mr. Steven Wöndu aptly suggested on the Sudan Tribune few days back, to rename free South Sudan as the Nile Republic, dissociating it from the ominous tag of Sudan. Not only that, it might be an inclusive name for the youngest country of the world that also raises hundreds of ethnic communities. Well, the nomenclature may initiate positive vibes but cannot resolve anything beyond that. South Sudan is lying almost on the crater of a volcano of risks, and it is now the most difficult task on the part of its administrators and leaders to bring the country on real plains of peace.

Let us summarize few of the biggest issues South Sudan is likely to face as soon as it keeps its first independent step. The country, as it is high time we start calling it to be, comprises of composite clusters of ethnicity, and hence their respective aspirations, beliefs, customs, languages and the matter of highest concern, leaderships. Ethnic leaders might have sung in unison in their long chorus for independence against Khartoum, but history often has proven the bitter reality of chaos when there were the greater needs of integration. New government at Juba has to ensure equal opportunity, democratic representation of all ethnic sects.

Southern Sudan shares its borders with Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Congo. Each country poses a unique assortment of threats. Ethiopia’s political instability, insurgences and fast penetrating roots of Islamist terrorism are poised to be the greatest challenges to South Sudan, all the more as the later is not an Islamic one. Congo’s rank in corruption index is not far from that of present-Sudan and despite all anti-corruption measures initiated by President Joseph Kabila, Congo continues to be one of the most corrupt countries of the world. South Sudan needs to struggle hard to get out of the quicksand of state endorsed corruption that both present-Sudan and Congo have sunk into.

Uganda and Kenya are economically more robust in this geography and hence thatch natural aspirations to explore the vast virgin natural resources of South Sudan. It’s richness in forests and minerals, specially oil and precious metals, is its asset as well as reason of being vulnerable, not only to relatively stronger neighbors but also to monstrously ambitious economies of remote horizons, like China.

For a nation that has long been under trauma of blood and mortar, establishing the constitutional law is going to be an uphill task for Juba leadership. And for understandable reasons, warlords must be kept out of governance and judicial apparatus. Experiences are bitter when military chieftains have gnawed into civil systems. The proposed state motto of ‘Justice, Equality, Dignity’ is not just something about coining three words but to enact and enforce.

The volcano is deep enough to exhaust, the drift is perilous. An age old Nilotic proverb says, ‘An empty stomach can make a man lose his cattle’. With poor human development indices, no nation can thrive longer, it merely exists. Investment must, therefore, be bulk on education, poverty eradication and employment. I believe progressive west and the UN bodies would assist the country with initial finances, but appetite needs to be grown in government to digest them uniformly and not let them consumed into few pockets. Both the largest democracies, the US and India have constructive role to the ascent of a vibrant, modern South Sudan. A blend of calibrated as well as liberal management of economy needs to work on both protecting indigenous industries and resources and also revenue generation for human development.

The volcano is active and will remain so, probably till mankind exists. The volcano has swallowed many civilizations and nations before. The world has blessed South Sudan in its charter of liberty. With the hope of peace and sovereignty, also arise dreams for a successful republic, on its journey away from possible reach of eruption.

Himalayan Glaciers and Water Diplomacy

posted May 9, 2011, 1:10 PM by Ajoy Chatterjee   [ updated Aug 28, 2011, 10:14 PM by SACRIR -USA ]

(SACRIR Desk: Geopolitics)

Reproduced from The Morung Express
(Ref.)
- By Ajoy Chatterjee, SACRIR

World got the shocking revelations on Himalayan glaciers before Copenhagen climate summit of 2007, and as we headed toward Cancun Conference during the end of 2010, concerns did spread across many nations. Climate change in and around the Indo-Himalayan glacier systems raised many eyebrows. It what was first published in 2007 - Fourth Assessment Report of Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set up by United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) pointing toward some factual observations. India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh have enough reasons to be alarmed. Future of about two decades from now might lead to a deserted Pakistan, a dehydrated Bangladesh and almost ruined northern India.

As studied and reported by noted glaciologists and environment scientists like Dr. S I Hasnain, Himalayan glaciers are retreating and thinning faster than any other glacial system of the world and with its current rate, if persists, will disappear by year 2035. Himalayan and Hindukush glaciers are the greatest source of fresh water and have been the cradles of one of the largest and oldest existing civilizations of the world. Almost all the major rivers of India, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, including the Ganga-Yamuna, Indus and Brahmaputra river systems, are streamed out of the Himalayas and raise close to 700 millions of lives on their alluvial catchment.

With the most alarming example, Gangotri glacier has its receding rate increased recently. Gangotri retreated at a rate of 23 meters per year between 1985 and 2001, compared to 7.3 meters between 1842 and 1935. With this rate, by 2035-50, Ganga will reduce to a seasonal river along with its other two siblings Indus and Brahmaputra. Smaller glaciers of less than 4 km in length, like those in the Tibetan plateau, are likely to evaporate off. This will lead to a reduction of 50% of agriculture in Gangetic India and Bangladesh, while population of India will touch 1.6 billion by that time. A disaster foretold.

Not only receding icebergs, microclimate changes in Himalaya-Hindukush area have triggered many more side effects. Farmers in Nepal have already reported unforeseen pests and diseases recently. Water supply in Kyrgyzstan has been predicted to reduce by 80%. The Yangtze and Hwang Ho rivers in China will lose their volume. Over a short term, it threatens hydel power projects impacting heavily on smaller economies like Bhutan and Nepal while long term results can be unsettling.
Last month, Norway vowed to spend $12 million to expand monitoring of Himalayan glaciers and helping local communities to adapt to the change. It is a surprise that very little attention is being paid by government of India. Environmental concern is still perceived as activism in India.

Now this gives rise to other big apprehensions. The rising tensions between growing economy India and imperialist giant China may turn gruesome in few years. Water sourced from these glaciers is the key to sustain lives, agriculture and industries at the bottom of Himalayas and the largest of the glaciers are in China’s forceful occupation. This is one significant contributor to Pakistan’s ‘lick-the-dragon’ stand. China’s illicit control of Aksai Chin and claim on Ladakh and Zanskar range are nothing but driven by desire to get hold of the perennial sources of water. Conflicts along Arunachal and Sikkim borders also expose similar intentions. The tussle will aggravate with the diminishing glaciers and India cannot afford to lose its territories anymore.

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War stresses on the need of winning battles with minimum loss to exchequer and lives, by knowing enemy more than one’s self. It is evident in China’s strategy in winning more friends around in India’s neighborhood. This is going to be the fiercest battle of nerves and needs. Water diplomacy will make or break both India and China’s future as global power.

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