Thursday, 13 August 2020

Unfriendly Untruths

Updated: January 19, 2013 1:12 pm

INDIA THAT IS BHARAT

 What is the difference between a barber and a hair-dresser? Or between a cat and a mouser?Or a pen-name and a pseudonym?Or, for that matter, between tweedledum and tweedledee? Being a journalist, Satiricus does not know.What is worse, being a columnist he does not even know if what happened in 1962 was China’s war on India or just a “border conflict”. But then, wonders never cease. One of them is that there are those among us who, despite being columnists, are treasure-houses of knowledge. Take, for instance, a recent long (and therefore learned) column in a leading paper on China’s relationship with India, which, this ignoramus is informed, is that of friendship, not of foeship. Being a knowledgeable journalist (an excellent oxymoron), the said columnist already knew this, but, as he begins in righteously ringing tones, his knowledge—nay, not mere knowledge, his “conviction”—was recently “reinforced” by a two-week trip to China. How wonderful !Satiricus had no idea one could know a vast country like China in two weeks flat. But this is an age of instant coffee, so what’s wrong with instant knowledge?

Not that the columnist does not mention long-past history. He tells us about the countless number of monks who took Buddha’s message to China after trekking thousands of hazardous miles, bringing the story down right up to Tagore’s contact with and Gandhi’s admiration for China. Then he asks, “Why do we forget that Buddhism has left a deep and transformative imprint on Chinese Civilization?” Ah, that is indeed the question. Stupid Satiricus, an ignorant Indian, really wonders why we Indians forget Buddhist influence on China. As for the “transformative” part of the Buddhist influence on Chinese culture, does the columnist mean the transformation that Mao’s Thoughts brought about during the Cultural Revolution? As Satiricus has not been to China even for one week, let alone full two, he does not know about China, but he has read that in Tibet this cultural revolution transformed 12 lakh Tibetans into 12 lakh Tibetan corpses, and 6000 Buddhist monasteries and shrines were transformed into divine debris with such devout diligence that in the case of some of them not even the basement can now be seen.

As for the “unfortunate border conflict”, this dimwit does not know how it could be unfortunate for the Chinese when they have a 3000-year-old history of such conflicts all over Asia, from India to Siberia. It seems those who say so must have read the wrong history, not the history that this columnist learnt (or was taught in two weeks in China). Among them, alas, is not only Satiricus, but also KM Munshi, founder of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. In an article he wrote on August 13, 1967, he said: “The recorded history of China goes back to the second millennium BC, while tradition carries it backward by another one thousand years. Her long history shows that China has always been aggressive, that….she has always tried to incorporate into her empire as many ….countries as she….could.” If the learned KM Munshi is to be believed (whom the obviously more learned columnist may find hard to believe), nearly half a century ago the Chinese government published a map of “Chinese territories lost to imperialists” that included (as within Chinese borders) 50,000 sq.miles of Indian territory, plus Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, as well as big chunks of Siberia, Outer Mongolia, Kazakstan, Tajikistan and Kirgizia.

Does this impressive list mean the “border conflict” of 1962 is a continuation of a 3000-year-old series, or a single, solitary incident that is best forgotten by us forgetful Indians? Unfortunately there are Indians who, despite being Indians, are not as forgetful as Satiricus. Rather, they have mean-minded memories. One of them was a defence minister who said China is our “enemy No. 1.” Another was the chief of our navy who said China is our “prime challenge”. Not long back another well-known columnist of the same paper wrote China was “very, very bad”. And only the other day the in-house China expert of the same paper has written that the very recent change of guard in the Chinese leadership is not going to make any change in their position on the border with India. Should forgetful Satiricus remember such unfriendly untruths? Of course not. Rather, he should cherish two solid proofs of China’s friendship. No 1: A recent report that Chinese N-arms are closing in on India. No. 2: Historian Balaram Chakravarti’s statement in one of his books that some Chinese strategists have advised their people through a website to break India into 20 or 30 pieces.

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