Blessings for Peace
TIMELESS MEMORIES OF LORD GAUTAMA BUDDHA
I trace my connection, relationship, partnership, and affinity to Special Frontier Force through my place of birth, Mylapore, Madras(Chennai), the Capital City of Indian State of Tamil Nadu. Acharya Nagarjuna of South India had exercised a profound influence on Tibetan Buddhism. Acharya Nagarjuna brings me closer to the problems of Tibetan people. The memories of Lord Gautama Buddha are indeed timeless. The Land of India has unfading, undying, everlasting memory of Prince Siddhartha and it is of great pleasure to share those memories.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
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- Sunday, 26 Jul 2015
IN SKARDU, SIDDHARTHA SINGS ON
The rock carving of Buddha in Baltistan serves as a window into the past
By FERYA ILYAS
Published: July 26, 2015
Images of Buddha in his different forms meticulously carved on a rock in Skardu. PHOTO COURTESY: BCDF
Centuries have passed since Buddhists disappeared from Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), but Buddha still watches over the serene town of Skardu from the corner of a cliff. Immortalised in stone, the sage continues to radiate wisdom for those who seek. But sadly, there are none.
Resting at the edge of Manthal village on the left of a stream from Satpara Lake, the granite – known as the Buddha Rock – is pale and smooth. Believed to be carved between 8th and 10th centuries, the relic represents the glory of the past, of a time when men and women meditated in the footsteps of the ‘One Who Woke Up’.
It has the makings of a heritage site – bearing testimony to a tradition which has disappeared. Its significance goes beyond nationalities. Yet, it sits at the border of Manthal village, ignored and forgotten by the world.
The serene and spotless Satpara Lake in Skardu. PHOTO COURTESY: MARYAM TARIQ
It is widely believed in Pakistan that the rock was not known to most until British traveler Jane E Duncan documented it in the early 1900s. “I went to Sadpor in search of the carved rock which Rajah Spindia at Khapallu had told me about; three miles and a half from Skardo, and a few yards off the road to Sadpor, we came to the rock, which proved to be a large and important relic of antiquity,” Duncan wrote in her book ‘A Summer Ride Through Western Tibet’ about the 1904 trip to Skardu.
Wazir Ejaz, CEO of Baltistan Culture and Development Foundation (BCDF), tells us that Duncan―failing to understand the Tibetan inscription on the rock―copied it and sent it to German scholar August Hermann Francke who was working in Ladakh. “Francke deciphered the script in English and published it in Calcutta and the world came to know about this magnificent carving,” Ejaz says.
However, British Tibetologist Philip Denwood, in his 2007 article for Journal of Inner Asian Art & Archaeology 2, said the rock carvings and Tibetan inscriptions were noticed by GT Vigne and reproduced in 1836 and 1838. Denwood further wrote AGA Durand published a photograph of the whole rock in 1899.
Shedding light on the ancient relief, historian Muhammad Abbas Kazmi says the carving and Tibetan inscriptions were made on a 30-foot high and 20-foot wide triangle-shaped rock. “The carving depicts present time Buddha—Siddhārtha Gautama—in the centre, 20 smaller Buddhas of the past around him and future Buddhas – Maitreya – standing on both sides,” Kazmi interprets. He claims that in Buddhist tradition, the ‘Council of all Buddhas’ as represented in the carving is called ‘Mandal’ – a word from which the village’s name is derived.
Tibetan text engraved on Buddha Rock. PHOTO COURTESY: BCDF
All the Buddhas, except the Maitreyas, are shown resting on lotuses in Bhumisparsha position which means ‘touching the earth’ and signifies the moment of enlightenment for Gautama. It is the moment when Buddha, after six years of hardship, decides to sit under a tree and not move until he achieves supreme and final wisdom. He is distracted by Mara, the lord of desire, but to no use. Gautama resisted every temptation and as the final test, Mara challenged Buddha to tell him who would bear witness to his worthiness to attain wisdom. Gautama said nothing and touched the ground beneath him. The earth shook. “The earth is my witness,” Buddha said.
The Tibetan script on the Buddha Rock, though incomplete at many places, instructs the followers of Gautama to take care of this sculpture. “The faithful ones (should) from time to time (make the colours of the sculptures) bright, and clean the place of offering that it may not decay,” says the text, as translated by Franke in the 20th century. Kazmi says only one of the three-part text is visible today but the entire script—with only a few characters missing—was on the rock when Duncan examined it.
In her book, Duncan wrote that she submitted copies of the inscription to several Buddhist scholars in London and Paris but because of the missing characters, none could give a rendering. “I wrote to Mr Francke telling him of my difficulty in getting a good translation, and he immediately sent a competent Tibetan from Khalatse to Sadpor to make new copies and this man was able to fill up many of my blank spaces, as he recognised numerous letters which had been partly destroyed,” the British traveler wrote, expressing amusement over the Tibetan charging just Rs12 for his long and fatiguing journey to the rock and back and his trouble in making the copies.
Francke, who translated the ancient text, said that “judging from the orthography employed, the writing is as old as those at Balu-mkhar, dating from not later than 1000 AD and, imperfect as they are, are of great philological and antiquarian interest; they all seem to refer to the sculptures on the rock.” He added, “Line No 8 in the third of them seems to indicate that the sculptures of Buddha are much older than the inscriptions themselves.”
Present time Buddha, Siddhãrtha Gautama, craved in the middle of the rock. PHOTO COURTESY: BCDF
Duncan, in her travelogue, wrote that the hole was used to hold light. “At the top of the rock above the Buddha’s head there is a square hole, which the chowkidar, who acted as my guide, said was used for holding a light, and the stone round it looks smoke-blackened,” she wrote.A prominent feature of the relic is a square cube cut out at the top of the stone. Last summer, when I arrived here, I saw visitors aiming to throw pebbles inside the hollow boxy space in fulfillment of a myth that praying and then throwing a stone inside the cube successfully will make a wish come true—a local spin on European wishing wells and lovers’ locks.
Historian Kazmi, however, says the space was probably used to hold a beam with support from both sides of the stone to carry a roof. “The square recess and cuts on the edges very clearly indicate that in the beginning there was a canopy over the rock-face of the carving to protect it from weather effects,” he explains. Buddhism specialist Dr Christian Luczanits concurs, pointing out that the images were probably painted originally and the roof had protected the paintings.
A copy of a portion of Tibetan text engraved on Buddha Rock. SOURCE: JANE E DUNCAN’S A SUMMER RIDE THROUGH WESTERN TIBET
The exact purpose may remain a mystery for years to come or maybe even be lost forever if the relic is not protected from wear and tear caused by nature and humans. “The sculpture should have been declared a heritage site by UNESCO long ago, but the government and BCDF have failed to make efforts to preserve the eroding piece of history,” Kazmi says, pleading to authorities to pay attention to the relic.
Pakistan, which hosts six world heritage sites, has failed to even mention the Buddha Rock in its Tentative List from which the UN body picks places of ‘special cultural or physical significance’. The last inventory was complied in 2004 in which ten nominations were made in addition to 1993’s eight recommendations. And as per the rules, Pakistan can re-examine the list at least every ten years.
Ejaz says the BCDF―which has Buddha Rock on lease for 90 years―considered recommending it to UNESCO for a heritage site as well as for one of its awards, but did not do so because the relic does not fulfill their criteria.
Dr Luczanits sees this rock carving as part of a larger group of Buddhist relics in the region, which he recommends to be declared a heritage site together. “What is more important is to create awareness locally to ensure protection of the site as part of the heritage,” the Buddhism expert says. And BCDF’s chief Ejaz tells us that for this purpose, his organisation has constructed a boundary wall around the rock and deployed a security guard to facilitate tourists. “The BCDF has also constructed a tourist hut nearby in collaboration with the government’s tourism department and submitted proposals to different donor agencies to preserve its writings and images,” adds Ejaz.
Crystal clear Satpara Lake. PHOTO COURTESY: MARYAM TARIQ
Protection of the site is crucial for preserving history as many believe this place was important for the spread of Buddhism in the area and served as a pilgrimage site for worshippers from far and wide. However, there is no concrete evidence to prove the exact use of the place.
“Such rock carvings are usually at spots that are widely visible and thus serve as a reminder of Buddhism in general, besides having a more specific local ritual function that we cannot reconstruct today anymore, except for its latest use like recorded by Ms Duncan for the square recess on Buddha Rock,” Dr Luczanits tells us.
The real story behind the stone may never unravel, but Kazmi vouches for the uniqueness of the carving. “Nowhere in the Buddhist world has anyone seen the depiction of all Buddhas in such a magnificent style,” he claims to point out the importance of Baltistan, and Skardu in particular, in the Buddhist history of the region. “Even in Lhasa, China—which has been the center of Mahayana Buddhism and the seat of Buddhist kings and fourteen Dalai Lamas—such a glorious picture has not been carved,” he says with a hint of pride.
Buddhism expert Dr Luczanits says the relief is part of a larger group all along the southern edge of the western Himalayas where rocks were used to depict Buddhist imagery. “The one in Skardu is unique in its composition, high quality carving and the number of Buddhas depicted; the carving emphasises the cosmic quality of the Buddha through the repetition of his image around him,” he says.
An older image showing the entrance to the historic site. The barbed-wire boundary has now been replaced with a concrete wall. PHOTO COURTESY: BCDF
Baltistan was the land of Shamanism until Buddhism arrived in the 4th Century with the monks from Northern India, well before it entered Ladakh and Tibet. Many monasteries were built during the Palolashahi kingdom that ruled the area and the religion continued to flourish after the Tibetan conquest of the region in the second quarter of the 8th Century.
In the 14th Century, Ali Hamadani and his followers arrived from Iran and changed the landscape forever. Locals embraced Islam and Buddhism vanished from their daily lives. The places of worship fell into despair due to no visitors and because the preachers of the new religion called for shunning the past. “By the 15th Century, no Buddhist was left in Baltistan and the Muslim population wreaked havoc on the Buddhist legacy, destroying religious buildings and monuments,” claims Kazmi, adding that many dug out the foundations of religious sites in search of wealth believed to be buried by Buddhist kings and lamas. More recently, in 2007 the Taliban in Swat defaced the biggest Buddha sculpture in the world, second only to the monumental statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, which were destroyed in 2001 by the Afghan Taliban.
‘The Little Tibet’ and its Buddhist heritage disappeared over time, but what mysteriously survived was the Buddha Rock among a handful of artifacts. “In the midst of a purely Mohammedan population, these monuments have been allowed to remain intact except for the partial defacement of the inscriptions, while over the rest of the country every trace of its ancient religion appears to have been destroyed,” Duncan wrote in surprise.
Dr Luczanits says it is not uncommon that such rock carvings were either ignored once the religion changed or reinterpreted to attain a new meaning for the locals.
In this case it appears, Buddha was simply left in peace.
Ferya Ilyas is a senior subeditor at The Express Tribune. She tweets @ferya_ilyas
An abridged version of this article was published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 26th, 2015.
Reader Comments (2)
Jul 26, 2015 – 5:33PM
I hope one day, Pakistan teaches factual history. Buddha was a Hindu prince, son of a Hindu King from eastern India. His teachings are mainly derived from Hindu texts like Vedas and Upanishads. The concept of Karma, life cycles, is at the core of Hindu text Gita. Hindus look upon Buddhism ( and also Jainism, Sikhism ) as belong to the Hindu family of religions. Hindus consider Siddhartha or Gautama Buddha , as one of the many Gurus of Hinduism.
Regarding how Islam came into present day Pakistan, it’s useful to read what Mahumud of Ghazni’s court historian, Al Beruni has said in his encyclopedic work ‘Tarqh-e-Hind’ in 1017 AD.
He writes, that the people that lived in Sindh, Multan, Lahore, Peshawar were overwhelmingly Hindus. He does not mention Buddhists. To escape the massacre, he says Hindus fled like ‘dust in sunlight’ , towards present day Kashmir , which was then considered a safe heaven for Hindus.
- He came with Mahmud of Ghazni , when Mr Mahmad invaded, plundered and wrecked havoc and destruction in present dat Pakistan and western India. Mr Al-Beruni stayed back in India for 17 years, and wrote in detail about India.
Jul 26, 2015 – 6:06PM
Please read “Story of Civilization” by William Durant written in 1942 after 35 years of study, research and travel by Bill and his wife Ariel throughout the world. This book is considered the bible of history of mankind. It is available on the internet in pdf format.
Bill has extensively covered the history of the region which is now Pakistan with many black and white photographs with description. Pakistanis would feel proud of their heritage.
The Chapter XVI takes you from Alexander to Aurangzeb and Section VI describes the Lessons of Indian History in the book which is a precious treasure of history.
ET, please pub
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Welcome to Telugu New Year SRI “MANMADHA.” UGADI CELEBRATION ON MARCH 21, 2015. Best Wishes to all of my readers for Peace and Joy in Celebration of Spring Season.
Friday, March 20, 2015 is the first day of Spring Season. Today is also the day for Total Solar Eclipse and a New Moon.
WHOLE PLAN – WHOLE MANTRA – DIVIDE AND RULE :
To maintain its supremacy as the world’s Superpower, United States unveils its plan to Divide and Rule India.
I want to share my opinion on President Barack Obama’s diabolical demand for “Religious Freedom” in the Republic of India. A radical Sikh organization called “The Dal Khalsa’ stated that it is happy with US President Obama’s call to India to uphold Religious Freedom. I am sharing this opinion on behalf of Special Frontier Force – Establishment Number. 22, a military organization affiliated to the US, India, and Tibet. The US has never demanded that Christian Missionaries be given free access to preach their Gospel inside Occupied Tibet. In fact, President Obama has not spoken about Religious Freedom in Tibet while he is fully aware of Tibetan Government-in-Exile’s existence at Dharamshala, India. President Obama has unveiled the plan of United States and United Kingdom to seek the Partition of the Republic of India on lines similar to partition of India in 1947. Religious Freedom is the “MANTRA” for Partition of India.The strategy followed by the British Raj and the US administration is the same. In 1947, it was very important to defend the rights of Muslims as without partition, Muslims cannot have access to political power and without political power, Muslims would lose their Religious Freedom. In democracy, there is separation of State and Church. In opinion of the West, India can never have true Democracy as a majority of its people may belong to Hindu religion. To counteract the Hindus, the British have formulated the governance policy called “Divide and Rule.” The collapse of the Soviet Union, the breakup of Czechoslovakia, the US sponsored dismemberment of Republic of Yugoslavia, and creation of Kosovo are often cited as examples of bringing “Regime Change” in countries considered to be hostile to the US Foreign Policy Agenda. The 105th US Congress in its First Session passed Resolution # 37 which demands the formation of an Independent Sikh Nation called “KHALISTAN” and the resolution demands the Right to Self-Determination for people who profess or follow the religion called Sikhism. Western powers like Great Britain, United States, Canada, France, Belgium, Australia and others have formulated a political strategy to take full advantage of the religious sentiments of the people of Sikhism to dismember the Republic of India. There is a fundamental hostility for the very existence of India which is known as “BHARAT” because of Hindu religion that many of its people adhere. In a world full of competing religions, Hindus are not allowed to desire any identity of their own. In other words, India’s adherence to the principles of DEMOCRACY is of no consequence and Indian people be separated taking advantage of the differences in religion, language, and history of regional affiliations. The concept of an independent, sovereign Khalistan, the Sikh Homeland was announced on October 7, 1987. These Sikh Separatists claim that Government of India murdered over a million Sikh people and accuse Government of India violates their Rights to Religious Freedom. The annual Sikh March for Khalistan is held on BAISAKHI(Vaisakhi) Day during the month of April. Sikhs living in Washington DC, New York, London, Vancouver(Canada) and other places parade on streets. The US supports these political activities and allows Sikh nationals of India to apply for asylum in the United States for it endorses their claims about religious persecution of Sikhs by Government of India. These Sikh Separatists claim that without political power, religion cannot flourish, their repression will continue and that their Sikh Nation will perish. A similar argument is made by Muslim Separatists who live in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. The advocates of Khalistan do not mention about persecution of Sikhs in Kashmir, and it appears that they have no recollection of the killing of Sikhs at the time of India’s Partition in 1947. When the United States President spoke about Religious Freedom, he did not mention about the Right to Self-Determination of Sikhs in Punjab, and of Muslims in Kashmir. However, Indian people must recognize that the issue of Religious Freedom is not simply about the Rights of Christians to practice their religion. It is important to know that the United States is not demanding Pakistan to support the rights of Christians living in Pakistan. The US is not asking Sikh Separatists and Kashmir Separatists to embrace Christianity or to grant full access to Christian Missionaries to operate in their communities. The fundamental concern is not about religion or Freedom of Religion. The goal of this US Policy is to breakup India and not to allow its people to find Peace, Justice, and Prosperity by choosing DEMOCRACY.
Special Frontier Force.Establishment22
OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ON RELIGIOUS FREEDOM :
This letter was written by an unknown author and I was asked to comment on it. The author had failed to acknowledge the US support for Sikh Separatists and Kashmir Separatists in the name of promoting Religious Freedom. The US deliberately undermined the ideal of Democracy and is endorsing Religious Fundamentalism to defend its vested interests, and to maintain its status of a Superpower at any cost without any concern for its own national values.
Dear President Barack Obama,
You spoke of religious freedom and in favor of the right to proselytize during your recent visit to India. Your words reflect the Christian West’s obsession with religious freedom. We Hindus have little doubt that when you talk of religious freedom you have the freedom of Christians to proselytize Hindus and not the freedom of Hindus to practice Hinduism in mind. In many Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia, a Hindu cannot even carry pictures of Hindu deities to worship in the confines of one’s home. You have never pontificated to the Saudis about the virtues of religious freedom. In the Christian Greece, it was illegal for a Hindu to cremate the dead until 2007 yet no American president pontificated to the Greeks. So, we rightly conclude that the religious freedom of Hindus is nowhere on your radar.
However, we are not asking you to stand up for our religious freedom. We are, instead, challenging your obsession with religious freedom. Let us begin by talking about some fundamental teachings of Christianity which you are presumably familiar with.
I did not render service. I have been responsible for genocide. It took me 18 years to realize that.
Christianity requires a groom to drag his bride on the nuptial night to her father’s doorstep and stone her to death on the suspicion that she may not be a virgin. It urges onlookers to participate in this violent orgy (Deuteronomy 22:13-21). Jesus sanctified and vowed to fulfill such terrible, misogynistic teachings (Matthew 5:17). We Hindus view the feminine as sacred and will not allow anyone the freedom to spread misogyny. We will not protect the alleged freedom of a misogynist at the expense of the dignity of a woman. We understand that you are not eagerly defending the freedom of the Taliban to spread Islamic misogyny in the USA. We are pleased to inform you that we Hindus will apply the same yardstick to Christian misogyny as well.
The Second Coming of Jesus is a core and fundamental Christian belief. On this occasion, Jesus would torture millions of Hindus for a period of five months, massacre them, and put them on the hell-bound cargo to be condemned to eternal torture (Revelations 9:4-5). Jesus also promises to make the Hindus kneel before the Christians in abject submission (see Hartung, John: Love Thy Neighbor – The Evolution of In-group Morality, pp. 15-16). We Hindus value human rights and will not grant anyone the freedom to spread genocidal hatred or subjugate others. You should be able to relate to our stance because you too aren’t advocating the freedom of Al Qaeda to spread genocidal hatred against Americans, are you?
Misogyny, a craving to subjugate others, and genocidal hatred are poisonous. Giving them a religious sanctity doesn’t make them desirable. Karl Popper cautioned against the tendency to tolerate the intolerant because such a misplaced tolerance would result in the demise of the tolerant and eventually lead to the demise of tolerance itself. His sage advice applies to intolerant, hateful, and misogynistic religious beliefs such as Christianity and Islam. According such religious beliefs even a modicum of freedom would eventually degrade the feminine and extinguish freedom itself.
More on Religious Freedom
We Hindus value freedom; not merely freedom of religion as Western Christians mistakenly value. In our reasonable worldview, only freedom is a fundamental right whereas religious freedom is a privilege that is earned only when the religious teachings do not subvert freedom. A religion that subverts the very foundation of freedom and human dignity by advocating misogyny and genocidal hatemongering cannot be accorded that privilege.
In The Religious Crusades of the CIA, Arvind Kumar shows that ‘religious freedom’ is a euphemism for the CIA-led initiatives to destabilize Hindu society. The Tamil writer Jeyamohanshows how the Ford Foundation acted as the front for this imperial agenda by funding Christian missionaries in India’s northeast. These missionaries facilitated the entry of other western-funded groups which sowed division and hatred among the various ethnic groups that had hitherto coexisted for millennia. These imperial-funded and orchestrated initiatives resulted in gruesome riots, bloodshed, and massacre of many a thousand besides sinking the entire northeast into abject poverty. One of the missionaries that had facilitated the pillage eventually had a moment of realization and confessed to Jeyamohan, “I did not render service. I have been responsible for genocide. It took me 18 years to realize that.”
President Obama, we will not allow another genocide by facilitating the spread of imperial-funded Christianity. Instead, we will initiate every measure to curb it. We will bring forth legislation to prevent the CIA and its front agencies such as the Ford Foundation from destabilizing India. We will also prevent western powers from controlling the churches in India by nationalizing India’s churches and NGOs and by empowering the government to nominate priests. In the true spirit of democracy and freedom, and in the spirit of Indian pluralism, these priests would hail from all communities and religions as well as from among the ranks of atheists.
You may also anticipate legislative measures which would protect indigenous religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and the various tribal religions. We would reverse the existing system which discriminates against indigenous religions while favoring Christianity and Islam. The state would fund institutions belonging to indigenous religions. We hope this idea would resonate with you; after all, the UK protects the Church of England and funds its educational institutions. America’s Christian churches are the leading beneficiaries of faith-based initiatives. So, this idea is no stranger to westerners.
We hope that not only Hindus and Indians but reasonable Americans too would laud these forthcoming initiatives. After all, a vibrant, democratic, and multicultural India is in the best interests of America as well. On the other hand, an India laid waste to by the predation of Christianity can only harm Indian as well as American interests. A patriotic American should be appalled by the fact that American textbooks indoctrinate defenseless children in Christianity. These textbooks portray Jesus as an embodiment of compassion. One would never tolerate a sanitized portrayal of a terrorist such as Osama bin Laden as compassionate. Yet, Jesus, who isindistinguishable from Osama bin Laden, is hailed as compassionate in textbooks. Such indoctrination is an abuse of the trust children place in adults. It is not only the mind of the American child that is abused. Defenseless children are subject to physical abuse as well because of their parents’ beliefs in biblical teachings. The Bible mandates the circumcision of the male child (Genesis 17). As a result, despite the progress in scientific knowledge, over 58 percent of American male children are subject to genital mutilations. These are examples of serious violation of a child’s freedom.
We hope that America ends such discriminatory practices by emulating the Indian example of curbing Christianity (as well as Islam) through legislation. We look forward to the day when America respects the freedom of a child to grow up unmolested in an environment nourished by reason. We hope you realize that the freedom of a child cannot be sacrificed to propagate Bronze Age superstitions.
Our ghar wapasi program is ready to embrace America’s recovering Christians.
An imaginary Indian politician
PS: How I wish an Indian politician wrote such a letter! Alas, in all likelihood, an Indian politician or a lay Hindu is likely to appease the Western bully by pleading that India is doing a lot to ensure religious freedom and will do even more. They would then grant more freedom to the rapacious missionaries and foreign NGOs until India becomes another Philippines.
MY THOUGHTS ON PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA’S INDIA VISIT :
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US President Barack Obama shared their views in a radio conversation titled “MAAN KI BAAT”(Mindful Conversation) that was broadcast on January 27, 2015. I am sharing the transcript of this radio conversation. Both the leaders speak about shared values and the basis for friendly relations between both countries in very general terms. They want to speak directly from the heart and share some personal thoughts on issues without specifically touching issues such as foreign policy. It is claimed that enough information on policy matters was shared in the joint press conference. However, I am of the opinion that there is no transparency in their conversation. There is no Peace, there is no Freedom, there is no Justice, there is no democratic governance, and there is no free flow of information in the occupied territories of TIBET and the problem is of great concern since early 1950s. When the 34th President of the United States, Dwight David Eisenhower made his five-day visit to India from 09 December to 14 December, 1959, he expounded the need for relentless effort to secure Peace through promoting Freedom. He used the term “CRUSADE” to communicate the intensity of struggle and sacrifice that is involved if people have to find Peace in their personal lives. There is really no Peace until man enjoys his Natural Right to Freedom. Since 1959, India has been hosting the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, and I am totally surprised to note that these two leaders have not said a word about the plight of Tibetans and their military oppression.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
Transcript of the special episode of ”Mann ki Baat”: PM Shri Narendra Modi and US President Shri Barack Obama share their thoughts on Radio
(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):
Today, Shri Barack Obama, President of the United States, joins us in a special programme of Mann Ki Baat. For the last few months, I have been sharing my “Mann Ki Baat” with you. But today, people from various parts of the country have asked questions.
But most of the questions are connected to politics, foreign policy, economic policy. However, some questions touch the heart. And I believe if we touch those questions today, we shall be able to reach out to the common man in different parts of the country. And therefore, the questions asked in press conferences, or discussed in meetings – instead of those – if we discuss what comes from the heart, and repeat it, hum it, we get a new energy. And therefore, in my opinion, those questions are more important. Some people wonder, what does “Barack” mean? I was searching for the meaning of Barack. In Swahili language, which is spoken in parts of Africa, Barack means, one who is blessed. I believe, along with a name, his family gave him a big gift.
African countries have lived by the ancient idea of ‘Ubuntu’, which alludes to the ‘oneness in humanity’. They say – “I am, because we are”. Despite the gap in centuries and borders, there is the same spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, which speak of in India. This is the great shared heritage of humanity. This unites us. When we discuss Mahatma Gandhi, we remember Henry Thoreau, from whom Mahatma Gandhi learnt disobedience. When we talk about Martin Luther King or Obama, we hear from their lips, respect for Mahatma Gandhi. These are the things that unite the world.
Today, Barack Obama is with us. I will first request him to share his thoughts. Then, I and Barack will both answer the questions that have been addressed to us.
I request President Barack Obama to say a few words.
(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):
Namaste! Thank you Prime Minister Modi for your kind words and for the incredible hospitality you have shown me and my wife Michelle on this visit and let me say to the people of India how honoured I am to be the first American President to join you for Republic Day; and I’m told that this is also the first ever Radio address by an Indian Prime Minister and an American President together, so we’re making a lot of history in a short time. Now to the people of India listening all across this great nation. It’s wonderful to be able to speak you directly. We just come from discussions in which we affirmed that India and the United States are natural partners, because we have so much in common. We are two great democracies, two innovative economies, two diverse societies dedicated to empowering individuals. We are linked together by millions of proud Indian Americans who still have family and carry on traditions from India. And I want to say to the Prime Minister how much I appreciate your strong personal commitment to strengthening the relationship between these two countries.
People are very excited in the United States about the energy that Prime Minister Modi is bringing to efforts in this country to reduce extreme poverty and lift people up, to empower women, to provide access to electricity, and clean energy and invest in infrastructure, and the education system. And on all these issues, we want to be partners. Because many of the efforts that I am promoting inside the United States to make sure that the young people get the best education possible, to make sure that the ordinary people are properly compensated for their labour, and paid fair wages, and have job security and health care. These are the same kinds of issues that Prime Minister Modi, I know cares so deeply about here. And I think there’s a common theme in these issues. It gives us a chance to reaffirm what Gandhi ji reminded us, should be a central aim of our lives. And that is, we should endeavour to seek God through service of humanity because God is in everyone. So these shared values, these convictions, are a large part of why I am so committed to this relationship. I believe that if the United States and India join together on the world stage around these values, then not only will our peoples be better off, but I think the world will be more prosperous and more peaceful and more secure for the future. So thank you so much Mr. Prime Minister, for giving me this opportunity to be with you here today.
(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):
Barack the first question comes from Raj from Mumbai
His question is, the whole world knows about your love for your daughters. How will you tell your daughters about youre experience of India? Do you plan to do some shopping for them?
(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):
Well first of all they very much wanted to come. They are fascinated by India, Unfortunately each time that I have taken a trip here, they had school and they couldn’t leave school. And in fact, Malia, my older daughter, had exams just recently. They are fascinated by the culture, and the history of India, in part because of my influence I think, they are deeply moved by India’s movement to Independence, and the role that Gandhi played, in not only the non-violent strategies here in India, but how those ended up influencing the non-violent Civil Rights Movement in the United States. So when I go back I am going to tell them that India is as magnificent as they imagined. And I am quite sure that they are going to insist that I bring them back the next time I visit. It may not be during my Presidency, but afterwards they will definitely want to come and visit.
And I will definitely do some shopping for them. Although I can’t go to the stores myself, so I have to have my team do the shopping for me. And I’ll get some advice from Michelle, because she probably has a better sense of what they would like.
(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):
Barack said he will come with his daughters. I extend an invitation to you. Whether you come as President, or thereafter, India looks forward to welcoming you and your daughters.
Sanika Diwan from Pune, Maharashtra has asked me a question. She asks me, whether I have sought assistance from President Obama for the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Mission
Sanika you have asked a good question. There is a lot of worry because of the sex ratio in India. For every 1000 boys, the number of girls is less. And the main reason for this is that, there is a defect in our attitudes towards boys and girls.
Whether or not I seek help from President Obama, his life is in itself an inspiration. The way he has brought up his two daughters, the way he is proud of his two daughters.
In our country too, I meet many families who have only daughters. And they bring up their daughters with such pride, give them such respect, that is the biggest inspiration. I believe that inspiration is our strength. And in response to your question, I would like to say, to save the girl child, to educate the girl child, this is our social duty, cultural duty, and humanitarian responsibility. We should honour it.
Barack, there is a question for you. The second question for President Obama comes through e-mail: Dr. Kamlesh Upadhyay, a Doctor based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat – Your wife is doing extensive work on tackling modern health challenges like obesity and diabetes. These are increasingly being faced in India as well. Would you and the First Lady like to return to India to work on these issues after your Presidency, just like Bill and Melinda Gates?
(Hon’ble Barack Obama):
Well, we very much look forward to partnering with organizations, and the government and non-governmental organizations here in India, around broader Public Health issues including the issue of obesity. I am very proud of the work that Michelle has done on this issue. We’re seeing a world-wide epidemic of obesity, in many cases starting at a very young age. And a part of it has to do with increase in processed foods, not naturally prepared. Part of it is a lack of activity for too many children. And once they are on this path, it can lead to a life time of health challenges. This is an issue that we would like to work on internationally, including here in India. And it is a part of a broader set of issues around global health that we need to address. The Prime Minister and I have discussed, for example, how we can do a better job in dealing with issues like pandemic. And making sure that we have good alert systems so that if a disease like Ebola, or a deadly flu virus, or Polio appears, it is detected quickly and then treated quickly so that it doesn’t spread. The public health infrastructure around the world needs to be improved. I think the Prime Minister is doing a great job in focusing on these issues here in India. And India has a lot to teach many other countries who may not be advancing as rapidly in improving this public health sector. But it has an impact on everything, because if children are sick they can’t concentrate in school and they fall behind. It has a huge economic impact on the countries involved and so we think that there is a lot of progress to be made here and I am very excited about the possibilities of considering this work even after I leave office.
(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):
Mr. Arjun asks me a question. An interesting question. He says he has seen an old photo of me as a tourist outside the White House. He asks me what touched me when I went there last September.
It is true that when I first went to America, I was not lucky enough to visit the White House. There is an iron fence far from the White House. We stood outside the fence and took a photograph. White House is visible in the background. Now that I have become Prime Minister, that photo too has become popular. But at that time, I had never thought that sometime in my life, I would get a chance to visit the White House. But when I visited the White House, one thing touched my heart. I can never forget that. Barack gave me a book, a book that he had located after considerable effort. That book had become famous in 1894. Swami Vivekananda, the inspiration of my life, had gone to Chicago to participate in the World Religions Conference. And this book was a compilation of the speeches delivered at the World Religions Conference. That touched my heart. And not just this. He turned the pages of the book, and showed me what was written there. He had gone through the entire book! And he told me with pride, I come from the Chicago where Swami Vivekananda had come. These words touched my heart a lot. And I will treasure this throughout my life. So once, standing far from the White House and taking a photo, and then, to visit the White House, and to receive a book on someone whom I respect. You can imagine, how it would have touched my heart.
Barack there is a question for you. Himani from Ludhiana, Punjab. Question is for you ……:
(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):
Well the question is “Did you both imagine you would reach the positions that you’ve reached today?”
And it is interesting, Mr. Prime Minister, your talking about the first time you visited White House and being outside that iron fence. The same is true for me. When I first went to the White House, I stood outside that same fence, and looked in, and I certainly did not imagine that I would ever be visiting there, much less living there. You know, I think both of us have been blessed with an extraordinary opportunity, coming from relatively humble beginnings. And when I think about what’s best in America and what’s best in India, the notion that a tea seller or somebody who’s born to a single mother like me, could end up leading our countries, is an extraordinary example of the opportunities that exist within our countries. Now I think, a part of what motivates both you and I, is the belief that there are millions of children out there who have the same potential but may not have the same education, may not be getting exposed to opportunities in the same way, and so a part of our job, a part of government’s job is that young people who have talent, and who have drive and are willing to work for, are able to succeed. And that’s why we are emphasizing school, higher education. Making sure that children are healthy and making sure those opportunities are available to children of all backgrounds, girls and boys, people of all religious faiths and of all races in the United States is so important. Because you never know who might be the next Prime Minister of India, or who might be the next President of United States. They might not always look the part right off the bat. And they might just surprise you if you give them the chance.
(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):
Thank you Barack.
Himani from Ludhiana has also asked me this question – did I ever imagine I would reach this high office?
No. I never imagined it. Because, as Barack said, I come from a very ordinary family. But for a long time, I have been telling everyone, never dream of becoming something. If you wish to dream, dream of doing something. When we do something, we get satisfaction, and also get inspiration to do something new. If we only dream of becoming something, and cannot fulfil the dream, then we only get disappointed. And therefore, I never dreamt of becoming something. Even today, I have no dream of becoming something. But I do dream of doing something. Serving Mother India, serving 125 crore Indians, there can be no greater dream than this. That is what I have to do. I am thankful to Himani.
There is a question for Barack from Omprakash. Omprakash is studying Sanskrit at JNU. He belongs to Jhunjunu, Rajasthan. Om Prakash is convener of special centre for Sanskrit Studies in JNU.
(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):
Well this is a very interesting question. His question is, the youth of the new generation is a global citizen. He is not limited by time or boundaries. In such a situation what should be the approach by our leadership, governments as well as societies at large.
I think this is a very important question. When I look at this generation that is coming up, they are exposed to the world in ways that you and I could hardly imagine. They have the world at their fingertips, literally. They can, using their mobile phone, get information and images from all around the world and that’s extraordinarily powerful. And what that means, I think is that, governments and leaders cannot simply try to govern, or rule, by a top-down strategy. But rather have to reach out to people in an inclusive way, and an open way, and a transparent way. And engage in a dialogue with citizens, about the direction of their country. And one of the great things about India and the United States is that we are both open societies. And we have confidence and faith that when citizens have information, and there is a vigorous debate, that over time even though sometimes democracy is frustrating, the best decisions and the most stable societies emerge and the most prosperous societies emerge. And new ideas are constantly being exchanged. And technology today I think facilitates that, not just within countries, but across countries. And so, I have much greater faith in India and the United States, countries that are open information societies, in being able to succeed and thrive in this New Information Age; than closed societies that try to control the information that citizens receive. Because ultimately that’s no longer possible. Information will flow inevitably, one way or the other, and we want to make sure we are fostering a healthy debate and a good conversation between all peoples.
(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):
Omprakash wants me too, to answer the question that has been asked to Barack.
Barack has given a very good answer. It is inspiring. I will only say, that once upon a time, there were people inspired primarily by the Communist ideology. They gave a call: Workers of the world, Unite. This slogan lasted for several decades. I believe, looking at the strength and reach of today’s youth, I would say, Youth, Unite the world. I believe they have the strength and they can do it.
The next question is from CA Pikashoo Mutha from Mumbai, and he asks me, which American leader has inspired you
When I was young, I used to see Kennedy’s pictures in Indian newspapers. His personality was very impressive. But your question is, who has inspired me. I liked reading as a child. And I got an opportunity to read the biography of Benjamin Franklin. He lived in the eighteenth century. And he was not an American President. But his biography is so inspiring – how a person can intelligently try to change his life.
If we feel excessively sleepy, how can we reduce that?
If we feel like eating too much, how can we work towards eating less?
If people get upset with you that cannot meet them, because of the pressure of work, then how to solve this problem?
He has addressed such issues in his biography. And I tell everyone, we should read Benjamin Franklin’s biography. Even today, it inspires me. And Benjamin Franklin had a multi-dimensional personality. He was a politician, he was a political scientist, he was a social worker, he was a diplomat. And he came from an ordinary family. He could not even complete his education. But till today, his thoughts have an impact on American life. I find his life truly inspiring. And I tell you too, if you read his biography, you will find ways to transform your life too. And he has talked about simple things. So I feel you will be inspired as much as I have been.
There is a question for Barack, from Monika Bhatia.
(Hon’ble Shri Barack Obama):
Well the question is “As leaders of two major economies, what inspires you and makes you smile at the end of a bad day at work?”
And that is a very good question. I say sometimes, that the only problems that come to my desk are the ones that nobody else solves. If they were easy questions, then somebody else would have solved them before they reached me. So there are days when it’s tough and frustrating. And that’s true in Foreign Affairs. That is true in Domestic Affairs. But I tell you what inspires me, and I don’t know Mr. Prime Minister if you share this view – almost every day I meet somebody who tells me, “You made a difference in my life.”
So they’ll say, “The Health-Care law that you passed, saved my child who didn’t have health insurance.” And they were able to get an examination from a Physician, and they caught an early tumour, and now he is doing fine.
Or they will say “You helped me save my home during the economic crisis.”
Or they’ll say, “I couldn’t afford college, and the program you set up has allowed me to go to the university.”
And sometimes they are thanking you for things that you did four or five years ago. Sometimes they are thanking you for things you don’t even remember, or you’re not thinking about that day. But it is a reminder of what you said earlier, which is, if you focus on getting things done as opposed to just occupying an office or maintaining power, then the satisfaction that you get is unmatched. And the good thing about service is that anybody can do it. If you are helping somebody else, the satisfaction that you can get from that, I think, exceeds anything else that you can do. And that’s usually what makes me inspired to do more, and helps get through the challenges and difficulties that we all have. Because obviously we are not the only people with bad days at work. I think everybody knows what it is like to have a bad day at work. You just have to keep on working through it. Eventually you make a difference.
(Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi):
Indeed Barack has spoken words from the heart (Mann Ki Baat). Whatever position we may hold, we are human too. Simple things can inspire us. I also wish to narrate an experience. For many years, I was like an ascetic. I got food at other people’s homes. Whoever invited me, used to feed me as well. Once a family invited me over for a meal, repeatedly. I would not go, because I felt they are too poor, and if I go to eat at their place, I will become a burden on them. But eventually, I had to bow to their request and love. And I went to eat a meal at their home. It was a small hut, where we sat down to eat. They offered me roti made of bajra (millet), and mik. Their young child was looking at the milk. I felt, the child has never even seen milk. So I gave that small bowl of milk to the child. And he drank it within seconds. His family members were angry with him. And I felt that perhaps that child has never had any milk, apart from his mother’s milk. And maybe, they had bought milk so that I could have a good meal. This incident inspired me a lot. A poor person living in a hut could think so much about my well-being. So I should devote my life to their service. So these are the things that serve as inspiration. And Barack has also spoken about what can touch the heart.
I am thankful to Barack, he has given so much time. And I am thankful to my countrymen for listening to Mann Ki Baat. I know radio reaches every home and every lane of India. And this Mann Ki Baat, this special Mann Ki Baat will echo forever.
I have an idea. I share it with you. There should be an e-book made of the talk between Barack and me today. I hope the organizers of Mann Ki Baat will release this e-book. And to you all, who have listened to Mann Ki Baat, I also say, do participate in this. And the best hundred thoughts that emerge out of this, will also be added to this e-book. And I want you to write to us on Twitter, on Facebook, or online, using the hashtag #YesWeCan.
• Eliminate Poverty – #YesWeCan
• Quality Healthcare to All – #YesWeCan
• Youth empowered with Education – #YesWeCan
• Jobs for All – #YesWeCan
• End to Terrorism – #YesWeCan
• Global Peace and Progress – #YesWeCan
I want you to send your thoughts, experiences and feelings after listening to Mann Ki Baat. From them, we will select the best hundred, and we will add them to the book containing the talk that Barack and I have had. And I believe, this will truly become, the Mann Ki Baat of us all.
Once again, a big thank you to Barack. And to all of you. Barack’s visit to India on this pious occasion of 26th January, is a matter of pride for me and for the country.
Thank you very much.
January 27, 2015
THE CRUSADE FOR PEACE THROUGH FREEDOM :
US President Barack Obama was the guest of honor at India’s celebration of its 66th Republic Day on Monday, January 26, 2015. This is the first time in the history of Republic of India, the US President is the guest of honor at the Republic Day Parade. There is a palpable sense of warmth, friendship, and cordiality between President Obama and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On behalf of Special Frontier Force I have to admit that India and the United States are not marching towards the goal of winning Peace through Freedom, a journey that these two nations started during 1950s. I would like to share the memories of the historical Five-Day visit to India by 34th US President Dwight David Eisenhower from 09 December to 14 December 1959. India and the United States joined hands to secure Peace and Freedom in the Occupied Land of Tibet . The military organization called Special Frontier Force( also known as Establishment No. 22) truly represents the legacy of President Eisenhower who captivated the hearts of Indian people with his call for a Crusade for Peace through Freedom. We have yet to fight this Battle to secure Peace, Freedom, Democracy, and Justice in the Land of Tibet. US President Obama, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have failed to mention the Great Problem of Tibet which gave the stimulus for formulating friendly relations between the US and India. Even if the word ‘TIBET’ is not mentioned during President Obama’s visit to India, I can most positively assert that TIBET would remain the central focus of India’s relationship with the United States. The military occupation of TIBET poses the greatest danger to Peace, Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights in the world. The problem will not go away and the real solution for the military occupation of TIBET is the Eviction of Military Occupier from the territories of Tibet.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
BHARAT DARSHAN – KUMBHALGARH FORT – RAJASTHAN:
I want to share with my readers the beautiful pictures of Kumbhalgarh Fort of Rajasthan, India. Please click on the photo images to view them in their full size. I give my thanks to Shri. Yashvir Tuli whose mail is forwarded to me. Indeed, the Fort is a little known wonder of India. The great builder of the Fort was killed by his own son, Uday Singh I during 1468 A.D. The Fort is thought to be the birthplace of great warrior, Maharana Pratap(May 9, 1540 to January 29, 1597) who had resisted the Mughal Emperor all his life. In the late 19th century, Rana Fateh Singh rebuilt the Palace. But, I must admit that I am disappointed to learn that this impenetrable Fort was captured by the combined forces of Raja Udai Singh, Raja Man Singh, the Sultan of Gujarat, and Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
Know Your India and Tell Others Too:
Kindly permit me to express my sense of gratitude and give the Image Credits to Flickr Users Lamentables, Bookchen, Dev, C P Chen, Dizzn an, TushyD, Honza Soukup, Kittell, Lumiere, Beth M527, Julynireland, and Plusgood. I thank all of them for sharing these beautiful images for the benefit of all others who had no chance to visit the beautiful Fort and its Great Wall at Kumbhalgarh, Rajasthan, India.
King Maharana Kumbha began the construction of this 36 Kms long Fort Wall in 1443 and it took about one hundred years to complete it. The Wall got further enlarged during 19th century. The Fort is built over a hill-top. The Fort Wall surrounds farm lands and there are about 360 Jaina and Hindu temples on this vast campus. The Wall may have separated the Kingdoms of Mewar, and Marwar. The Fort withstood enemy attacks and in its long history of about 500 years, the Fort fell into the hands of its enemy only once which speaks of the problem of disunity among Indians.
SPECIAL FRONTIER FORCE – INDIA – CHINA RELATIONS:
I am pleased to share the article titled “TIBET IS THE REAL SOURCE OF SINO-INDIAN FRICTION” by Brahma Chellaney that was published by Nikkei Asian Review in its edition dated September 26, 2014. I speak on behalf of Special Frontier Force and The Living Tibetan Spirits. I often describe about my “Kasturi-Sarvepalli-Mylapore-India-Tibet-US” Connection and I openly promote friendly relations between India and Tibet and support the condition called ‘Natural Freedom’ in the Land of Tibet. The military invasion and occupation of Tibet is not consistent with the principles of Panch Sheela Agreement that India signed during 1954. At that time, both Tibet, and India desired friendly relations with China and had used diplomacy to influence China to relax its military grip over Tibet. Tibetans for centuries enjoyed a natural sense of Freedom in spite of foreign invasions by Mongols and later Manchu China. It may be noted that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was not arrested after China’s successful military attack in 1950. He had continued to occupy Patola Palace in Lhasa and had visited New Delhi along with China’s Prime Minister Chou En-Lai and during May 1956 during 2500th Buddha Jayanti (Gautama Buddha’s Birth Anniversary) Celebration.
Both India, and Tibet had good reasons to entertain an optimistic view about Tibet’s status and had anticipated that China would relent and allow Tibetans to enjoy their natural Freedom and their traditional way of life which is guided by the political philosophy called ‘Isolationism’. The Great 13th Dalai Lama had declared Tibet’s full independence on February 13, 1913 after the fall of Manchu China’s regime during 1911. However, Tibet did not establish formal diplomatic relations with other countries and remained aloof from the events shaping world history.
I am only seeking transparency and full public accountability while nations pursue their foreign policies to promote their own national interests. People’s Republic of China has to make a choice and it can choose to establish friendly relations with Tibet and India and maintain its trade and commerce relations with the United States and the rest of the world.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-4162, USA
September 26, 2014 7:00 pm JST
Brahma Chellaney: Tibet is the real source of Sino-Indian friction
The sprawling, mountainous country of Tibet was annexed by China in the 1950s, eliminating a historical buffer with India. Today, the region remains at the heart of Sino-Indian problems, including territorial disputes, border tensions and water feuds. Beijing lays claim to adjacent Indian territories on the basis of alleged Tibetan ecclesial or tutelary links, rather than an ethnic Chinese connection.
So when Chinese President Xi Jinping traveled in mid-September to India — home to Tibet’s government in exile — Tibet loomed large. The Tibetan plateau, and the military tensions the issue provokes, will also figure prominently in the Sept. 29-30 summit at the White House between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama, who has urged Beijing to reopen talks with the Dalai Lama, the exiled religious leader revered as a god-king by Tibetans.
Xi’s visit to New Delhi began with the visitor toasting Modi’s birthday. But, underlining the deep divide regarding Tibet, the visit was overshadowed by a Chinese military incursion across the traditional Indo-Tibetan border. It was as if the incursion — the biggest in terms of troop numbers in many years and the trigger for a military standoff in the Ladakh region — was Xi’s birthday gift for Modi.
An Indian policeman restrains a Tibetan youth during a protest in New Delhi on Sept. 19. The rally against China’s control of Tibet was held outside the Taj Palace Hotel, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping was staying. © AP
An Indian policeman restrains a Tibetan youth during a protest in New Delhi on Sept. 19. The rally against China’s control of Tibet was held outside the Taj Palace Hotel, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping was staying. © AP
Modi’s government, for its part, allowed Tibetan exiles to stage street protests during the two days that Xi was in New Delhi, including some close to the summit venue. This reversed a pattern that had held since the early 1990s, in which police routinely prevented such protests during the visits of Chinese leaders. During the decade-long reign of Modi’s predecessor, Manmohan Singh, police would impose a lockdown on the Indian capital’s Tibetan quarter and beat up Tibetans who attempted to rally.
Such brutal practices would have befitted a repressive autocracy like China, but not a country that takes pride in being the world’s largest democracy. In any event, the muzzling of protests won India no gratitude from an increasingly assertive China.
It was a welcome change that India permitted members of its large Tibetan community to exercise their legitimate democratic rights. Even the Dalai Lama felt at liberty to speak up during Xi’s visit, reminding Indians: “Tibet’s problem is also India’s problem.” The Tibetan protests, although peaceful, rattled China, which had grown accustomed to Indian authorities doing its bidding.
When Modi took office in May, the prime minister of Tibet’s government in exile, Lobsang Sangay, was invited to the swearing-in event. So Xi sought an assurance that the Modi government regards Tibet as part of China. Modi has yet to speak his mind on this issue in public, but the Chinese foreign ministry, apparently citing private discussions, announced: “Prime Minister Modi said that Tibet is a part of China, and India does not allow any separatist activities on its soil.”
Tibet — the world’s highest and largest plateau — separated the Chinese and Indian civilizations until relatively recently, limiting their interaction to sporadic cultural and religious contact, with no political relations. It was only after China forcibly occupied Tibet that Chinese military units appeared for the first time on the Himalayan frontiers.
The fall of Tibet represented the most profound and far-reaching geopolitical development in India’s modern history. It led to China’s bloody trans-Himalayan invasion in 1962 and its current claims to vast tracts of additional Indian land.
Yet Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1954 surrendered India’s extraterritorial rights in Tibet — inherited from Britain at independence — and accepted the existence of the “Tibet region of China” with no quid pro quo,not even Beijing’s acknowledgement of the then-prevailing Indo-Tibetan border. He did this by signing a pact mockingly named after the Tibetan Buddhist doctrine of Panchsheela, or the five principles of peaceful coexistence. As agreed in the pact, India withdrew its “military escorts” from Tibet and conceded to China, at a “reasonable” price, the postal, telegraph and public telephone services operated by the Indian government in the region.
Years later, another Indian prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, went further. During Vajpayee’s visit to Beijing in 2003, China wrung from India the concession it always wanted — an unambiguous recognition of Tibet as part of China. Vajpayee went so far as to use the legal term “recognize” in a document signed by the two nations’ heads of government, confirming that what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region was “part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China.”
This opened the way for China to claim the large northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh — three times the size of Taiwan. Please read on..