Not many in India take politicians very seriously.
The same happened when Arunachal Pradesh representative in Lok Sabha Khiren Rijiju complained that China had set its eye on the state. It was taken as just another attempt to steal newspaper headlines.
But events that unfolded shortly after, quite unfortunately, proved that his fears were not completely unfounded.
The denial of visa to an IAS officer Ganesh Koyu from the state by China cannot be looked at as an ordinary event. If at all the Government does, the fact would only reinforce India?a position as a soft state and the incident as yet another attempt by the Communist state to peddle this image.
And let'snot forget, it happened to a pet proposal by none other than Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself.
With the benefit of hindsight now, especially Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Yuxi'scomments last November that China claimed ownership over entire Arunachal Pradesh, we can safely that India is in a difficult neighbourhood. And the Chinese threat does indeed loom large from across the Himalayas.
And also that Sun Yuxi'sremarks ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao were not as out of place as Government efforts tried to make it to be.
The Chinese act deserves special attention as it comes at a time when border talks are on way and the impression that the Indian establishment has tried to convey that negotiations are favourably disposed towards New Delhi. So, such incidents come as a shock to the people of the country, that the Government represents. Therefore, the latest Chinese act of misdemeanour, arrogance and resounding rebuff, is a reflection that the Government has not been able to hold on to the promise of protecting national interest.
It might appear to be very loaded, but a stark reality nonetheless, when Rijiju says that while the people of Arunachal Pradesh have always stood up to the Chinese might but the present Government has let them down. He goes to the extent of saying that New Delhi is ?afraid of the Chinese military.
He raises another pertinent question?why was the Chinese envoy not summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs and given an earfull?
Some might say that the BJP MP is overreacting, but there is hardly anyone who would dispute the fact that incident has left the UPA government with egg on its face.
The incident is yet another pointer to how little thinking is done by the present regime. The delegation was a well thought decision. It seems, the lackadaisical attitude of their political masters has crept into the iron cast bureaucracy as well. If that were not the case, why would they send someone from the state as part of the team in the first place? Was there any reason for them to forget what Beijing had done to former state Chief Minister Gegong Apang?
In fact, as late as April, three officials and an MLA from Arunachal Pradesh were denied visas on the same grounds?that they did not need visas to visit their own country. They were part of an Indian delegation to attend the 8th China international vegetable, science and technology fair.
However, as waters have been murkied by China, it lends an opportunity for India to raise the issue of Aksai Chin and demand the area back after having been under Chinese occupation for several decades now. The issue of the region being illegally ceded to China by Pakistan, has failed to get the international attention it deserves. It just might get it now.
It must also force a thought about reconsidering the official position on supporting the cause of political and religious freedom in Tibet.
Coming back to the moot topic, let us not miss the larger picture in it. While strategists in North Block have not given much thought, there have been genuine worries about a larger Chinese gameplan to encircle India with Arunachal Pradesh, especially Tawang, providing just a symbolic value.
If we go by the general prediction doing the rounds across the world about the rise of India and China as the world'snext Superpowers, Beijing has indeed gained the upper hand. Unless India indulges in taking corrective measures fast, it would have automatically lost diplomatic ground and considerable international influence too.
(The author is a senior journalist and an International Relations expert. He can be contacted at [email protected]).