China – what it is, actually

When India bans a Chinese product, the English media is usually up in arms with’Stand with China’,’Freedom of Trade’ and similar sounding headlines. When it is common knowledge that China strangles freedom and treats its ethnic minorities in a wholly in-human manner, these very english media voices develop speech impairment and remain dumb. 

When India issued an advisory to her armed forces personnel on Chinese mobile phones, The Hindu, the so-called Índia’s National Newspaper’from Chennai issued an editorial on expected lines and periodically issued warnings like this.

NDTV, yet another English channel from India, has the habit of issuing ‘warnings’ disguised as óp-ed’pieces pontificating on the need for maintaining regional unity, read – acquiesce to Chinese demands and don’t grow a back bone. 

But when it comes to media suppression, minority rights curtailment, surveillance and lack of privacy in China, the Indian media, that would otherwise be shouting over the rooftops for ‘freedom of expression’, would plug all its human-rights orifices and act dumb. 

To remind the dumb Indian media on what China is doing with its digital dictatorship schemes, I hereby present some videos on the said topic from the BBC, The Economist and the Australian News Networks, and hence can’t be a ‘hindutva’ production. Enjoy these videos and form your opinion of what China really is.  

BBC Report on China – a surveillance state

Dystopian Digital Dictatorship in China

When a Chinese billionaire accused the CCCP of corruption, the govt put his family members in jail.

Wall Street Journal details the surveillance state in the muslim majority Uyghur minority provice.

The Economist’s report on China being a surveillance state.


Are authors any good in contemporary analysis?

Ravi Velloor is the author of ‘India Rising’ – a book on India from a Singapore perspective. It is a well researched book and showed the author’s efforts.

But the author is also an Associate Editor with The Straits Times.

It was Doklan crisis time. Ravi Velloor wrote an extremely below-standard article that said the following:

  1. China would attack India.
  2. Pakistan would join China in attacking India.
  3. Singapore Air Force, that has its training facilities in India’s Kalaigunda Air Base, should look at other options for its training. 

None of the above happened. The article was under-researched, alarmist and lacked details. 

How could the author, who writes a great book, write such an article that reeks of arm-chair analysis and advertises lack of clear thought processes?, I thought.

I got the answer. Arun Shourie, author of many exemplary books, and importantly of a book on China that brought out how and why Nehru prostrated to China and allowed the 1962 disgrace to happen, said during the same Doklam crisis, that India was preparing to get yet another slap on the face. And we know what happened in Doklam.

I got my lesson – Authors are good at hindsight, but, are not pragmatic and not worthy of contemporary analysis.

May be I am wrong. Point me to journalist-authors who are right in both roles at the same time.

Here is the article that I had referred to.

'God who failed' – book review

51aymrwgool-_sx336_bo1204203200_Disclaimer : I hold Panditji in high esteem and in no way would write anything to insult his memory, for I am a product of the Nehruvian socialist secular educational system and still carry many of the ideals that I had been taught.

Madhav Godbole’s  book is a significantly incisive work on Panditji’s policies and their impact on India. The author, a former bureaucrat, has, in due course of the book, compared the personalities of Panditji and Patel. We get to see that, had Patel been at the helm in 1947, the fate of India would have been different.

The author does not dwell on Panditji’s life and history, but plunges into his administration and government. That is a welcome change from the maze of books that talk about Nehru’s early life and romanticize his leftist leanings.

Having been introduced to Panditji when he was an IFS probationer, the author has not been carried away by the former’s magnetic personality. Thus he produces a detailed account of what he saw of Panditji’s policies and administration.

Of particular interest are the Kashmir imbroglio and the China conundrum. The author treats us to various sources on the confusions around Kashmir and China. How Panditji despised Maharaja Hari Singh, how Sheikh Abdullah deceived Nehru and India, how Patel had judged Abdullah early on and had sounded alerts and how Panditji took Kashmir to the UN on the advice of Mountbatten and many more policy failures are laid bare in this book.

We get a feeling of ‘If only Patel had handled Kashmir.. ‘. Once into the book, we are drawn into this moment of truth when the sad reality of the present (2016) stares at us with a devilish smile.

Mountbatten repeatedly deceives Nehru on Kashmir. He hunts with the dog and runs with the hare. While being the Governor General of India, he still serves the interests of Britain and works to fulfill Clement Atlee’s wishes. In this process, he completely deceives Nehru into believing that taking the Kashmir matter to the UN would be in India’s interest. We see that Panditji is completely blown off by the personality of Mountbatten that he agrees with him after some initial murmurs of protest.

And we are left with a boiling Kashmir even after 70 years.

On China, the story is a case of extreme neglect and despair. Sardar Patel writes two very important letters to Panditji that caution him on China and her intentions. Patel is direct and explicit on the threat from the communist neighbour. He goes on to compare the imperialist colonials with the communist tyrants of China and even says that the former are a tad better as the latter are driven by an ideology and hence are more harmful. Panditji choses to ignore those and after 12 years, China gives India one of its worst defeats. If only Nehru had paid heed to the Sardar, the history of the nation could have been vastly different.

In the book we see many things that baffle us completely –  Panditji lies to the Parliament on the Chinese occupation, prevaricates on equipping the army, lies again on the clothing supplied to Indian soldiers, denies knowledge of Chinese road works in the Aksai Chin area, meets alone with Chou En Lai who comes with a team of officers for discussions, and the like. What is clear is that Nehru was willing to believe in Chou En Lai than in the Indian officers on the China situation. When Chou En Lai repeatedly lies on the issue of maps, Nehru acts like a docile pet and accepts whatever the former says.

We get to see Panditji repeatedly saying that the maps that Chou En Lai had shown were old maps of the Kuomintang and that China would amend them once the country stabilized. We also get to see Panditji often misleading the nation on the China situation.

We also find that Nehru’s foreign secretary didn’t have the nerve to approach him with clarifications. One could ask as to why India’s Foreign Minister didn’t meet with Nehru to apprise him. The answer : India didn’t have a foreign minister and Panditji played foreign minister as well.

Even considering that Nehru was overwhelmed due to his age and workload, what baffles us is that he never felt the need for a Foreign Minister. Could Rajaji have filled up that position? With Rajaji’s stature and intelligence- he commanded equal respect and admiration as Panditji – the situation would have probably improved. But Nehru didn’t deem it fit to assign the Foreign Ministry to a full time minister. In an earlier book by Walter Crocker, this is attributed to Nehru’s ‘all knowing brahmanical’ attitude.

Despite the callousness shown by the Chinese media to him and the intemperate words used by the Chinese officials, Panditji fights for a permanent seat for China in the UN. Even Khurushev of the USSR hints that the USSR would recommend India to be the fifth member in the UN Security Council, but Panditji turns the offer down and instead says that including China into the UN was the need of the hour. While even the US was not in favour of another communist power being in the UN Security Council, Nehru feels otherwise.

Panditji shows undue haste in de-recognizing the Chiang-Kai-Shek led Kuomintang government in Taiwan and recognizing Mao’s communist China, despite the fact that Chiang-Kai-Shek was a friend of the Congress and Gandhiji. Nehru gives an impression that he was employed by the PRC (People’s Republic of China) as its PRO (Public Relations Officer). He speaks of recognizing China’s nationhood in every international arena possible. Though he did all these to secure a friend in the Asian context who was anti-colonial, the results were not to India’s benefit.

In spite of all these overtures, China attacked India and humiliated Panditji and the nation. We also see that Nehru sent a series of desperate telegrams to the US seeking immediate military help. This, and the humiliation in the war, dealt a death blow to the grandiose prestige, international and domestic standings of Panditji and he never recovered from that.

Fast forward to 2016 : China uses its Security Council veto power to act against Indian interests and the border dispute with China still persists.

Panditji’s stand on the Uniform Civil Code, Constitutional Amendments and looking the other way when corruption occurred – all these bring down the stature of the first Prime Minister of India. The LIC Mundhra scam, the V.K.Menon episode etc bring down Panditji’s reputation. But, by any stretch of imagination, I don’t mean to say that he was corrupt.

Being a firm believer in democracy, Panditji is seen as striving hard to uphold the democratic ideals in all his actions so much so that he lends himself to be termed ‘indecisive’. In spite of being in awe of the Soviet Union and Communism, Panditji doesn’t believe in implementing the ways of the communist state in India. However, the central planning mechanism that he had implemented has been modeled on the Soviet Union and has proved to be a huge impediment to the nation’s progress. Thankfully, the current PM Modi has done away with the commission.

Panditji is seen striving hard to uphold the system of parliamentary democracy. His many and often lengthy answers to queries in Parliament are evidences to the fact that he believed in treating parliament sacrosanct.

Page after page spews out references to books of yore, written by ex-bureaucrats who had served under the first PM of India, some leading politicians of those times, historians et al.

If you read this book you would learn :

  1. Why some of Panditji’s policies failed.
  2. Who else could have done a better job.
  3. What are the consequences of the failures.

If you don’t read this book:

  1. You would continue to believe in what the CBSE text books would have taught you about Panditji and continue to live in utopia.

P.S.: The book is available here.

Thanking Nehru

‘The essence of a free press is the principled, reasonable, moral essence of freedom. The character of a censored press is the unprincipled aberration of un-freedom, it is a civilized abomination, a perfumed monster. I think, censorship of the press is based on the principle that the end justifies the means. But an end that requires unjustifiable means is not a justifiable end’. This was Karl Marx in 1842. But the communists who claim to follow him are the greatest censors of press freedom ( China is not communist any more though ). But Marx had a great follower in Pandit Nehru. He was an advocate of Press freedom. He once said,’I would rather have a completely free Press with all the dangers involved in the wrong use of that freedom than a suppressed or regulated Press.”

However he had his issues with press freedom. In the First Amendment to the Constitution, he brought in changes to curtail press freedom after a court ruled in favour of ‘Observer’, the right wing magazine and said “pre-censorship of a journal is a restriction on the liberty of the Press which is an essential part of the right to freedom of speech and expression.”. Panditji then moved the First Amendment and he said,”During the last fifteen months of the working of the Constitution, certain difficulties have been brought to light by judicial decisions and pronouncements especially in regard to the chapter on fundamental rights. The citizen’s right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by article 19(1)(a) has been held by some courts to be so comprehensive… In other countries with written constitutions, freedom of speech and of the press is not regarded as debarring the State from punishing or preventing abuse of this freedom… The main objects of this Bill are, accordingly to amend article 19 for the purposes indicated above.”

Except for this, he was a strong advocate of Press Freedom. He had encouraged Shankar when he had caricatured Panditji in various cartoons.

Yes, he goofed up on Tibet, lived in utopia ( as the left leaning politicians usually do ) and believed in the halo that he would be recognized as a statesman by China and chose to look the other way when there were massive incursions that eventually led to the country being slapped in front of the world, the J&K issue with Article 370 being introduced surreptitiously etc. You could add to this list.

But you cannot ignore the public sector that he assiduously helped build. And those served the nation at least for 40 years and some like BHEL and NLC continue to do so.

In our collective resolve to defame Panditji, let us not forget the founding father on his various other attributes that have helped nurture our democracy in its infancy.

Let us stop for a moment and thank the patriot for his service to nation that we call homeland.

Lesson birds taught me

It was a hot Sunday afternoon and this flock of small birds drew my attention as they sharing the leftover water from a spill. The birds took turns to splash themselves. When one was wet, it let the next. Thus no bird was left behind.

There was no jostling or scampering. A bird’s flight in and another’s flight out seemed to have been coordinated by an invisible hand.The communication among them was perfect though I didn’t get a bit.

The birds seemed to tell me something.

You stupid humans, stop fighting for resources.
Learn to share and be happy.
O, America don’t invade for oil and keep the spoil.
O Muslim States, don’t kill and impose your will.
The Sea of China is for all; so don’t create a free for all.
O Humans,
You claim sixth sense
yet behave with no sense
You want the world as your treasure
Yet never do you come up the measure
For the world is for all for sure
And you don’t understand for sure
O humans, learn from us’

The birds have learnt. Will we, ever ?

BRICS Bank- Yet another lullaby

Goldman Sachs coined the acronym ‘BRICS’ for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. They ‘predicted’ some years ago that these countries would be the growth engine. They just re-stated what everybody else knew already.

Now there is a talk of ‘BRICS Bank’. No, not the brick and mortar bank. But a bank exclusively for the BRICS countries in the lines of IMF and World Bank. Fed up with IMF and World Bank, there was an Asian Development Bank as well that came into being. But there is, as usual, the Western intervention and is pretty much useless for Asia.

India and China are spearheading the BRICS bank to help finance the BRICSs’ development needs. Noble thoughts, no doubt. With IMF and World Bank being the hand maiden of western vested interests (‘Refer Confessions of an economic hit man’ – John Perkins ) a non-Western world bank is welcome. But what are the pitfalls ?

Let us say, China wants money to help finance a port expansion in Sri Lanka, would India approve that from the BRICS  bank ? Likewise, if India wants to builds a bridge in Arunachal Pradesh, would China approve of the loan ? What happens if ONGC ( the Oil and Natural Gas Company of India ) wants to explore oil in South China sea and China wants to explore the Indian ocean area for some resources ? Would they mutually approve the loans ?

China has often blocked loans to India from ADB for the latters’ projects in Aurnachal Pradesh. Now ADB has stopped loaning to India for Arunachal projects. That is the reality.

Let us look at the funding for this bank. BRICS needs $100 Bn. Divided by 5 and you get  $20 Bn from each  country. With a budget deficit that India has, how could it fund the bank ? 20 Bn is not huge for a trillion dollar economy. But when you need to repay your loans from Japan and other countries, how do you fund an external bank ?  Is that the right way to go ?

So, what can a BRICS bank achieve other than make a face at IMF and World Bank ?

Alibaba's banking thieves

Hurray, banks have competition. No, not the shady money lenders, but technology enables lenders that are not banks.

And Alibaba is the new dragon from dragon-land that challenges banks.

Alibaba is the Chinese equivalent of e-Bay. But it allows customers to have a virtual wallet, have digital cash and allows them to transfer funds to their friends. It also has a Money Market account and allows customers to invest. Customers can also perform inter-bank transactions. So the banks are worried.

Have you noticed that Amazon provides suggestions in Google search even as you start typing a books’ name ? That, strictly, is intrusion. But we don’t protest.

‘When you allow Amazon to be intrusive and allow it to “suggest” products based on customer behavior, you need to allow banks to “suggest” their products to customer when they use these e-payment services’, say the banks.

‘I will lose my profit. I have to maintain a higher capital adequacy ratio but not Alibaba’, protest the banks. but they take care not to sound as a protest. Can’t afford to scratch Beijing at the wrong end, right ?

Looks interesting when banks are left to fend for themselves. Remember the ‘Lehman millionaires’?

Alibaba of yore had 40 thieves. Now there are banks.

Alibaba’s banking thieves

Hurray, banks have competition. No, not the shady money lenders, but technology enables lenders that are not banks.

And Alibaba is the new dragon from dragon-land that challenges banks.

Alibaba is the Chinese equivalent of e-Bay. But it allows customers to have a virtual wallet, have digital cash and allows them to transfer funds to their friends. It also has a Money Market account and allows customers to invest. Customers can also perform inter-bank transactions. So the banks are worried.

Have you noticed that Amazon provides suggestions in Google search even as you start typing a books’ name ? That, strictly, is intrusion. But we don’t protest.

‘When you allow Amazon to be intrusive and allow it to “suggest” products based on customer behavior, you need to allow banks to “suggest” their products to customer when they use these e-payment services’, say the banks.

‘I will lose my profit. I have to maintain a higher capital adequacy ratio but not Alibaba’, protest the banks. but they take care not to sound as a protest. Can’t afford to scratch Beijing at the wrong end, right ?

Looks interesting when banks are left to fend for themselves. Remember the ‘Lehman millionaires’?

Alibaba of yore had 40 thieves. Now there are banks.

Comical banking ?

You are stupid if you thought banks just do banking. They take part in politics.

That is what HSBC did. It ‘downgraded’ HongKong’s securities to ‘underweight’. That meant that the stocks in HongKong were not attractive to buy now. Do you know the reason ? A pro-democracy movement that was underway in HongKong.

Shocked world reacted and immediately HSBC went back on its analysis. Then it put ‘democracy movement’ as the final item in its many other reasons. How did the ‘new’ reasons come about just in a day ? Who was behind these ‘new’ reasons ? More importantly who was behind the ‘old’ reason ?

The truth is plain and simple. Beijing does not take kindly to the democracy protests. It sees such protests as harbingers of freedom in mainland China. Hence exerted pressure on HSBC to ‘downgrade’ its own region.

Later when the twitterati went up in anger, HSBC ‘revised’ the reasons.

I know P.G.Wodehouse worked for HSBC for some years. The bank need not become a comedy just because of that.

'Self-deception – India's China Policies' – book review

When Arun Shourie writes a book, there are three kinds of reactions. The Congress doesn’t speak, the communists denigrate the book and the nationalist becomes sad on reading the book. All three reactions are wholly justified as they are true. The fact of the matter is that the book, true to Shourie’s style, contains detailed analysis, in-depth and incisive evidences to back the analysis and then in the end, the way forward from the current situation.

And, as usual, the way forward is coolly forgotten by the country that continues to live in utopian dreams.

The subject of this book is also on similar lines – Indian nationalism, India’s foreign policy, how the leaders let the country down and what needs to be done to take it forward from the then current abyss. In this book, the leader that has let the country down is, hold your breath, Pandit Nehru. Yes, of all people, how Panditji screwed India’s foreign policy and the aftereffects of that carefully cultivated folly called ‘NAM – Non Aligned Movement’ and the case of mis-placed self-promotion that cost the country dear.

515gbda7zml-_sx315_bo1204203200_No, this is not an anti-Congress book from a BJP writer. For practical purposes, after Vajpayee started to recede from politics due to health reasons, Shourie has never played any role in the BJP. However, his forthrightness and fortitude are all the same.

It begins with Panditji’s lofty ‘ideals’ at the time of independence in 1947, goes on to explain the lies that he imagined to be true and the imaginary position that he commanded in world affairs and therefore chose to ignore the obvious evil, China and its communist upsurge.

Panditji is warned, with great foresight, by Rajendra Prasad, the then President of the Nation, Sardar Patel, the then Home Minister on China’s evil designs. He is repeatedly sent long lists of evidences from different officers of the Indian Government from Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Tibet, Beijing ( then Peking ). Panditji chooses to ignore each and every one of these evidences and letters. In fact, he admonishes the writers of these letters.

It becomes a habit for Panditji to putdown the very officers of the government who choose to do their duties. Officer after officer presents Panditji with the situation on the ground in Tibet, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Aksai Chin and Lhasa. And every time each of these officers are admonished by Panditji. He puts them down either for their usage of the term ‘communist’ or for the term ‘McMahon Line’. Or otherwise he chides them for some language usage. With these he wishes his hand away from the main problem of China.

The officers repeatedly talk about the issue of China issuing maps that show large parts of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Tibet as their territory. First he rubbishes them that those were old maps. Later he says the Chinese government doesn’t have time to issue new maps and hence ignore that. And these are exactly the lines spoken by Chou-en-lai, the then Premier of China. And what ever Chou-en-lai says, Panditji repeats.

When opportunity presents itself for Panditji to discuss these issues with Cho-en-lai, he prevaricates. Instead he speaks about Cuba, Algeris, Korean war, the US-Britain imperialism etc.

These, Shourie presents from Panditji’s own letters o his Ambssadors to China, Letters to the Chief Ministers and hid various press conferences. And what we see is that first Pandithi refutes and puts down the questioner, then after some years seems to slightly agree but hide under the garb of ‘socialist thought’ and later only when China attacks in 1962, does he acknowledge the Chinese threat.

And the issue of the Chinese communist threat to India has been there from 1950 onwards.

We also get to know the great debates and questions that happen in Lok Sabha when Panditji is questioned by Prof.N.G.Ranga, Acharya Kripalani and Atal Bijari Vajpayee. Yes, Vajpayee is relentless in his questioning of Panditji on China.

Towards the later part of the book, we get a glimpse of China’s growing hegemony in the world – oil diplomacy, funding diplomacy and later military diplomacy, the way countries in Latin America that are not eligible for IMF loans are provided loans in return for oil favours, the way deep water ports are constructed in Gwadar Pakistan, Sri Lanka almost free of cost with the only condition that China would have first rights for oil transport through these ports, the way oil pipelines have been laid from Burma deep into China, the way Tibetan rivers are diverted to provide water to Central China – all these are explained in great detail with evidence.

And the Chinese way of usurping territory – ignore complaints, silently encroach and set up base and later claim that they had never had any contention in the area under question. The other tactic is ‘murder with borrowed knife’ – arm the enemy’s enemy. And China excels in that.

And what is also explained is the complete policy paralysis in India right from the days of Panditji to the current regime when inaction is eulogized as policy and strategy, ignorance is camouflaged as wisdom and policy paralysis has become the norm.

And towards the end of the book, we get the complete but abysmal picture of the current state of affairs especially with respect to foreign policy ( better that we don’t discuss about the other fronts like Finance, Education etc ).

The book leaves you with a deep sense of shattered national pride.

A must read for every Indian nationalist.

The book can be bought from here.