Re-visiting Shashi Tharoor’s advice on India-China border dispute
Abracadabra By K. B. Ganapathy, Columns

Re-visiting Shashi Tharoor’s advice on India-China border dispute

June 22, 2020

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.

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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.

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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.

Jai Hind!

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8 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Re-visiting Shashi Tharoor’s advice on India-China border dispute”

  1. Strangeworld says:

    Mr Ganapathy
    “England as a democracy followed this patriotic ideal. Democracy won. Dictator lost. Then why not India win?”
    When you refer to WWII Britain ( not England as England has been just a region), you ignore 4 important facts:
    1.Britain had a national government. That is The three political parties in Britain then: Conservative,Labour and Liberal parties joined together and formed a national unity government. That was to include all opinions,so that the government speaks as a whole, and reflected the opinions of every one in the country The three parties hated each other in Britain, but for the sake of the country, they came together in a government.
    The situation in India is different The BJP government blames the Congress and vice versa. Hence, divided opinions at the political level and in the country.
    2. The PM was Winston Churchill,elected to lead, because,the previous PM Chamberlain was trying to be friendly with Hitler.
    In India PM Modi’s friendship with Xi Jinping dates back to years before he became the PM, when Modi was the CM of Gujarat. When you have friendship with a Chinese leader, you forget what China can do. Typical Nehru’s fault again- which Vajpayee in 1962 in a large public meeting in Mysuru accused Nehru of this folly.
    3. Even when Britain had strict censorship at the WWII time, certain events were told to people. For example, the disastrous defeat at Dunkirk of British army,by Germans, where many British soldiers were dead. This information was given to people.
    Modi maintains there was no China intrusion, and yet Satellite images obtained by the Western media, immediately after the clash,told a different story. The Galwan valley was taken by China.
    4. Winston Churchill was prepared to resign,any time,and he accepted, that all that went wrong was his fault
    Modi blames the previous government although this serious loss of territory has taken place under his watch.
    6. Winston Churchill visited all places where British soldiers died fighting.
    Modi after saying about the soldiers death, was more interested in the International Yoga day. He should have visited the scene of clash. He would.t,because that place now belongs to China!
    You have not commented on the latest development. Trump is full of bluster,and that he will not help India,as India is not a NATO country. He is in political trouble because of the release of the book by his former national security advisor John Bolton, where he mentions the very close friendship of Trump and Xi Jinping, and the latter was asked by Trump to help to win his election. As it stands Joe Biden the democratic presidential candiate has a huge poll lead. He is advised by an Indian-origin Senator Kamla Harris, who dislike Modi’s CAA laws. Joe Biden is not Barak Obama.
    The information today is Russia has intervened seriously,and has arranged the meeting of Indian and Chinese foreign ministers in Moscow, presided by the Russian Foreign minister. Indian cannot ignore Russian advice. It will be very clear that Russia will side with China, its Communist ally,and advise India not to escalate the conflict. Territories lost to China is going to be lost for ever. Tharoor ignored the fact that Soviet leader then advised Nehru,asRussian leaders are doing today,to netotiate only,which means,China kept the territory then,will do the same this time.

    Finally Modi should have learned from the mistakes of past Congress governments, including Vajpayee’s government, that was not getting too close to Chinse leaders. Since the days of Morarji Desai’s Janata government,where Vajpayee was a foreign minister, and got too close to Chinese leaders-which he in 1962 accused Nehru doing the same.
    If I were you,I would not listen to Tharoor, but to George Fernandes. Please read what Fernandes said:https://www.oneindia.com/india/when-george-fernandes-called-china-indias-enemy-no-1-sparked-controversy-2843591.html
    I quote:”Fernandes, 68 then, had cited China’s backing Pakistan and Myanmar and also adopting a policy of encirclement against India”
    China has cleverly with discounted products bribery has ,lured Nepal,Bangladesh and Sri Lanka into its camp.

  2. Strangeworld says:

    Apologies: Many typos.The post is too long to correct them and repost, sorry again.

  3. Jalandhara says:

    Hello Mr Ganapathy
    What you mentioned about England ( it is Britain as clarified)is WWII time Britain,when all major cities in Britain were bombed by the German Luftwaffe. There was hence the case of the nation’s ‘survival. The PM Churchill as explained by the poster above formed a national unity government consisting of the ruling and opposition parties. The nation’s unity was thus achieved.
    This situation in India is different.
    As a general comment ,I should articulate how other democracies in the West work. In each of these countries ,there are committees on intelligence,defence,home,finance,health etc..,, in each of which, there is membership of ruling and opposition parties . This ensures that government policies,actions etc..are shared with the opposition party members,and discussed. That way,the opposition parties cannot claim ignorance of any policies or actions. These committees meet each week ,and in this Corona Virus situation ,on -line.
    This transparency is what makes these countries work reasonably well,,even in crisis situations.
    I recollect,even at the final stages of Vietnam War,the beleaguered President,reeling from the Watergate Scandal, and when the Senate with the Democrat majority was pursuing impeachment hearing, the Vietnam war-related information was shared with Democrats in the above committees

  4. Randerize says:

    Mr. Ganapathy will let India rot and burn, but will never ever give up his love for his brahminical party. That’s the kind of radicalism we see only in conservative Muslims, white supremacists, and hardliner jews of Israel. I see it now, they are all the same when normalized with religion plus caste here in India.

  5. Hare Krishna!! says:

    I agree with the above 2 posters that comparison with World War II time Britain is at best spurious. Britain as the posters said had a national unity government consisting all parties, who represented all different opinions prevailing in that country. Each family in the country, had at least one male in the army, navy or airforce serving, and one woman in the supporting services. The country was subjected to intense attacks by German bombers. Submarines ( U-boats) patrolled the sea sinking ships.
    The country’s PM Winston Churchill shared victories and defeats with the people. Visited the wounded and families whose sons were dead.
    From the information available to the media in the West, it is very clear,China has taken Galwan Valley, swath of Pangong and has eyes on Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls as South Tibet. This every commentator outside India has clearly explained.
    Modi is keeping quiet, letting Rottweiler Nadda to attack the opposition. Modi knows well China is not going to withdraw from the above territories.
    No use to depend on a Joker like Trump. He is fighting for his reelection in November. He has already stopped work visas for foreign workers in the US, whivh will affect India the most-not the gesture of a friend.
    President Putin has taken over. The Russian leaders under him are conducting the negotiations with India and China. Modi knows well that this will end in Russia NOT asking China to give back the territories occupied. Hence, Modi says no incursions and no territory lost! The LAC is redrawn .
    How this has happened?
    The removal of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, did not simply remove the special status of Kashmir, which you , Mr Ganapathy applauded, but it also redrew the map of Ladakh showing all the disputed areas as Indian. That escalated hundreds of incursions under Modi regime, also under Congress regime, which were taking place, into a more serious clash recently.
    The talks supervised by Russia between India and China in Moscow is meant to cool the temper of India, Because Russia knows, given the military superiority of China, if a war breaks out, India will lose Arunachal Pradesh totally, and China will annex it to the Tibet.
    Indian defence minister has gone to Moscow to join the talks too, with a shopping list of missiles and other weapons. Russia will give them to India with the warning that they cannot be used against China.
    Modi will be in the same situation as Nehru after 1962.I agree with the posters that it is not Sashi Tharoor you should be reading, although he will be a good Congress leader instead of the dreadful Sonia and Rahul-two wastrels,wastrels, but Late George Fernandes who as defence minister never trusted China.

  6. Jasbir Singh says:

    If there is war . How this war will be fought?
    1. China will unleash its army and try incursions in Indian Territory.
    2. Pakistan will let loose fidayeen to wage a jihad through the porous borders of Kashmir and Rajastan
    3. Indian Army will retaliate and in the retaliation, it is natural to have casualties on both sides.
    4. Chinese army will not acknowledge any casualties on their side and there is no way in finding out their casualties in terms of men as well as land, as their media is completely state controlled
    5. Pakistan as usual will not own up its casualties and say that they were not their people
    6. Indian Government and Army will release their number of casualties and also declare casualties of the other side (China as well as Pakistan)
    7. Now the real warfare starts:–
    a. A portion of Indian media will doubt the Indian government numbers as they are not the same as Chinese and Pakistani numbers
    b. The opposition parties will ask for proof of Chinese numbers and also proof of Land won back
    c. The Communists will debunk any Indian winnings and will say that they do not believe Indian numbers as these numbers are being declared by BJP ruled government.
    d. A large number of NGOs, Media outlets, Web based news channels, covertly financed by the communists and Chinese government will start a candle march claiming that the government unnecessarily forced the army into war with China and Pakistan.
    e. These NGOs will garner support from soft Indian drawing room sofa set based social media warriors, who neither understand warfare nor have any qualms about the country and trend
    #save Indian soldier from war or #make peace not war or #we want peace or #we want jobs not war or #economy first not war or
    #India stands for peace or #we stand with innocent soldiers etc.
    f. Remember they will never use words like martyrs, brave soldiers, etc. their words will be innocent soldiers, innocent families, etc.
    g. A public opinion will be built up painting Modi, Rajnath Singh and Amit Shah as warmongers and people against peace.
    8. This rhetoric will jeopardize India’s position and reduce the chances of getting back Aksai chin as well as POK. Over and above that the rhetoric will DEMOTIVATE OUR BRAVE SOLDIERS and sabotage our Army.
    9. The same game was played earlier during Vajpayees time when we had to release terrorists to get back our citizens from Kandahar.
    Hope the present government does not succumb to this warfare on social media and mainstream media and stands resolutely behind the Indian Army.
    All the true Indians have to pledge and resolve as follows!
    *I Stand resolutely behind the Indian Army and the Brave soldiers who are guarding our borders. I appeal to all my fellow patriotic citizens to pledge their unconditional support to the Indian Army and no belittle their sacrifices by playing crying nannies.*

  7. Hello, hello! says:

    Today, Indians seem to be more worried about Trump freezing work visas to US, than about the death of their soldiers. So many thousands of Indians wanting to go to the US!!
    Although, there was the howling of banning Chinese imports, the business leaders do not day much as they seem to want certain imports like machinery and materials for pharmaceuticals from China to be maintained. The contracts already in place will go through.
    Russian mediators included senior Russian ministers, and the outcome of the meeting reported clearly explained by the Russian Foreign Minister, that China and India will resolve their issues without outside interference.
    Russia has assured of fulfilling India’s defence contracts as well as the approval of the list of missiles carried by India’s defence minister Rajnath.
    All the above indicate that there will be no war, border skirmishes may be, but no war.
    The question then is: What will Modi who promised that the soldiers did not die in vain, fighting Chinese do when India’s friend mighty Russia does not want any more wars with China, but only negotiations?

  8. China Fireworks! says:

    The Times of India reports today (1st July) this: ““After physically occupying an almost 8-km stretch of what India considers its territory on the North Bank of Pongong Tso in Eastern Ladakh, the PLA has created a massive signage in the East area to claim it as Chinese Lnd”
    So China indeed intruded and took away Indian territory.

    Hello Modi, Basaveswara said: “ Husiya Nudiyalu Beda”.

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