I am no politician, yet in a democracy every citizen with a voting right is a politician. After all, he has chosen his Government. This is the simple reason I ventured to contemplate on what was happening in Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between our forces and that of China. Thank God, the Parliament is not in Session…
William Shakespeare famously spoke about the man’s helplessness before, let me say, fate. In the play ‘Hamlet,’ a character bemoans, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.”
Our country, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi and we the people seem to be facing the same kind of situation Shakespeare spoke of in the play ‘Hamlet.’ In the midst of COVID-19 refusing to go away, rather surging in numbers, the consequent economic meltdown, fear of an uncertain future, we are faced with the border clashes with China thus compounding our difficulties.
I wonder if China does not feel “sorrow” despite having similar difficulties, rather worse with Hong Kong on the boil. But China being a Communist country, with one-party rule, a totalitarian country with no opposition and no citizen allowed to ask questions like in our democratic country, can easily ignore the world opinion, loss of human lives and economic meltdown. Therefore, China, without being questioned by its people unlike in our country, can engage itself in a geo-political game with India and hope to win.
India too can hope to win in this geo-political game, in my humble opinion, only if, as a democracy, every citizen and every political leader cutting across party-lines, resolves, like the Englishman during World War II, who asserted “Right or Wrong, My Country” and stands firmly behind the ruling Government without striking a discordant note or making demoralising statements. England as a democracy followed this patriotic ideal. Democracy won. Dictator lost. Then why not India win?
Be that as it may, after our PM called an all-party meeting to discuss the Ladakh situation and martyrdom of our soldiers, I was left wondering what was the outcome of the meeting and how did it resonate with the main Opposition Congress and the Left parties. It was then that I remembered our know-all Congress MP Dr. Shashi Tharoor, who wrote the book ‘The Paradoxical Prime Minister — Narendra Modi and his India.’ It was published in 2018, one year before the 2019 Parliamentary elections that was won by BJP.
At the end of Chapter 42 of the 500-page book, Tharoor hazards a prediction about Modi’s defeat in the 2019 Parliamentary elections with a sense of audacity. He couches his prediction in his own garbled style. Let me use his own words: “Will Prime Minister Modi have the sagacity to make our relationship with the US what it should be, as his Prime Ministerial term lurches towards its inglorious conclusion?”
Well, we know Modi’s Prime Ministerial terms marched towards a triumphal victory with greater majority than in his 2014 victory driving the Opposition to their inglorious political limbo. Hope, Shashi Tharoor, may not hazard another such ominous prediction about Modi in the next 2024 Parliamentary elections.
Now let me turn to the present and what Shashi Tharoor has written in Chapter 43 titled “Kowtowing to China?”
He regrets the fact that though Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping had met on numerous occasions, for all these meetings there did not seem to have been much headway made on the most serious issue confronting the two nations — border conflicts, the trade imbalance and China’s growing aggression to fulfill its regional and global aspirations, among others. He mentions about Doklam standoff for months in 2018, Dalai Lama’s April 2017 visit to Arunachal Pradesh and its border town of Tawang and how these developments annoyed China.
He seems to ask a pertinent question: If China could settle its boundary with Myanmar along the McMahon Line, why not with India?
He says India took a conciliatory approach with China and it was a setback and China has scant regard for India’s sensitivities on various issues.
But Shashi Tharoor has a word of advice, or call it counselling, to China which, I guess, is good for China in the long run. Let me quote:
“But India somewhat bigger than China’s other regional neighbours, and is made of sterner stuff. Rather than adopting a confrontational stand, China’s leaders should work with us. If they don’t, and instead move, to follow through on their threats, they may well discover that India, too, has cards to play.”
My humble, layman’s feeling is that we should convey this message, nay warning, to China post-haste through diplomatic channels.
And Shashi Tharoor’s another counselling too should make sense in the present situation to bring ‘Peace for Our Time’ (to borrow a phrase from British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain but not with the kind of result Chamberlain got!)
“China can veer away from confrontation towards at least co-existence if not extensive co-operation.” To my mind Shashi Tharoor seems to have had a mystical kind of premonition when he suggested in 2018 a way to bring China to its senses. This is what he wrote:
“But to pull this off successfully requires… political firmness, military preparedness to discourage any PLA (China’s People’s Liberation Army) adventurism, hard-headed economic negotiations and skilful diplomacy.”
No more Kowtowing to China. Only a polite Namaskara, yes Mr. Shashi Tharoor. But who in the past ignored India’s borders with China? I received a WhatsApp message where the then Defence Minister A.K. Anthony was telling the Parliament in 2013 that India did not develop any infrastructure or military capability on the border but China did. India did not build roads and airfields. May be, now that India is doing all that under Modi Government, China is annoyed.
e-mail: [email protected]