Soccer star Baichung Bhutia, by refusing to carry the Olympic torch, has proved his commitment to liberty and democracy. The Indian football captain said, ?I sympathize with the Tibetan cause. I have many friends in Sikkim who follow Buddhism. This is my way of standing by the people of Tibet and their struggle. I abhor violence in any form.? Hats off to Bhutia!
Unfortunately, there are not many whose courage we can salute. Aamir Khan, the film star who did not have any compunction in getting associated with the retrograde stir of professional radicals on the Narmada Dam, will carry the torch. Khan wrote on his blog, ?If I am not mistaken, almost all societies have been responsible for human rights violations either directly or indirectly? I request those of you who have asked me to stay away from the Olympic torch relay to understand that when I do run with the torch on April 17, it is not to support China. In fact, it will be with a prayer in my heart for the people of Tibet, and indeed for all people across the world who are victims of human rights violations.? The film star'sattempt to equate China with others is not only incorrect but also deplorable. It leads us to the conclusion: if all countries violate human rights, there is nothing wrong in China'swrongdoings.
Still, Aamir Khan had the courage to stand for the Tibetans. But what happened to our intellectuals and civil liberty activists, who raise a stink when they feel that something outrageous has happened in, say, Gaza or Iraq? The Arundhati Roys, Aruna Roys, Amartya Sens, Medha Patkars, Kuldeep Nayars, Rajinder Sachars, Mani Shankar Aiyars-what are they doing to curtail Beijing'ssavagery in Tibet? What happened to India's?moral leadership? in the world that Aiyar talks about? Not only our Left-leaning?and therefore sympathetic to China?intellectuals have been exposed; the world'sbiggest body, the United Nations, too has been stripped.
The UN pounces upon Israel even when the latter takes action to protect the lives of its citizens; it often jeopardizes the Jewish state'sefforts to check Palestinian terrorists. But the world'spremier body practically ignored China'sbrutality in Tibet; forget any action, even its criticism of Beijing was mild and routine. This despite the well?documented evidence of the perpetration of cultural genocide in the unlucky place, the settling of Han Chinese over there and gradual marginalisation of the Tibetans in their own land.
The lack of resistance to China'sevil designs has further emboldened it. It has started showing in the relations between India and China.
In the ties between India and China, the only thing more startling than New Delhi'spusillanimity is Beijing'sgrowing audacity and brazenness. As reported in the media, China now seeks India's?understanding? and support for itself over Tibet. Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo spoke to National Security Adviser MK Narayanan over phone and briefed him on the ?violent crimes? in Lhasa and ?expounded? China'sstance on and concerns over the Tibet issue.
Simultaneously, the Chinese are continuing their aggressive military incursions along the Sino-Indian border. According to a news report in The Times of India, ?Since January, Chinese troops have intruded a dozen times into Indian territory in the strategic Pangong Tso lake area in eastern Ladakh as part of Beijing'scontinuing aggressive posture all along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).? It may be recalled that such activity is not new; it has been happening over the years. Various regimes in New Delhi have just overlooked the menace of Chinese expansionism. ?India, in fact, recorded well over 140 intrusions by Chinese troops across the 4,057-km LAC in 2007 alone. This even included transgressions into Sikkim in August-September, even though China had earlier accepted the state to be a part of India,? says the report.
Unfortunately, the Government refuses to take cognizance of China'snefarious designs. Eternal Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Defence Minister AK Antony are in the denial mode; they use the neutral word ?incident? to describe the attacks on our territorial integrity. There is nothing more serious about the ?incidents? than ?differing perceptions? of the LAC. Shame on you, ministers!
While our top leaders are circumspect even in using proper words in describing China'smisdemeanours, Beijing continues to behave in behaving in a cantankerous fashion. When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh earlier this year, Beijing made its displeasure amply clear. Its ambassador to India has gone on record laying claims on Arunachal. It summons our ambassador to China at 2 a.m. Yet, our Government keeps chanting the mantra that ?Tibet is an integral part of China.? The cowardice of the Manmohan Singh regime has made Beijing even bolder.
On the one hand, it has intensified its bellicose activity along the LAC; and, on the other, it has sought our ?understanding? and support over Tibet. Former Defence Minister George Fernandes is right in saying that China is ?still potential threat number one? and ?could become an enemy.?
But the UPA regime, dependent upon the mercy of the lackeys of China, continues to ignore this truth. The regime has been badly exposed, like the professional radicals.
It is time more people spoke against China'sgenocidal policies in Tibet. We need more Bhutias in public domain and political arena. Lest what US Speaker Nancy Pelosi called a challenge to world conscience goes unanswered.
(The author works with The Political and Business Daily)