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Thursday, November 16, 2006

China, India and Tenzin Tsundue

The smell of dystopia comes. The Chinese government is not happy about a dissenter in India, so they get the Indian government to crack down on him. Tenzin Tsundue, the activist for a free Tibet who won Outlook's then-annual essay competition with a lovely essay some years ago, has been placed under virtual city arrest. Matt Browner Hamlin reports:
[Tsundue] has been restricted to within the city limits of Dharamsala and is being guarded by eleven police officers around the clock. He has committed no crime and is under no suspicion of any dangerous activities. Yet the Indian government has declared that he will be deported to Tibet - a country that he has never lived in - if he leaves Dharamsala during the period of Chairman Hu Jintao’s visit to India.
Nitin Pai states his position:
Tenzin is a spirited protestor. But his methods are non-violent. “Non-violence is not a strategy for us” he writes, “It is a holistic way of living; it is our basic principle for life”. That should completely address concerns over President Hu’s security. And if the Indian government is that concerned that his protests may prove an eyesore for Hu and therefore an embarrassment for his hosts, then it should place perimeter restrictions that prevent Tsundue from getting into the Chinese president’s field of vision. There is no justification for any restraints that go beyond this.

Meanwhile, China itself has not shown an appreciation for its hosts’ sensitivities ahead of the trip—it has not hesitated to make it clear that its stand on the border dispute remains unchanged. So UPA government’s Nehruvian kow-towing to China’s sensibilities is as unreciprocated now as during Nehru’s own time.

That the UPA government’s foreign policy is hijacked by its Communist allies should now be clear.
Bang on, though I must point out here that Indian governments of the past haven't been particularly staunch defenders of freedom, Communist allies or not. And I'm assuming that the second and third paras of the excerpt I quoted above are meant as an aside: even if China gave in to all our demands -- or whiny requests, as it were -- the freedom we allow our citizens and residents should be non-negotiable. Tenzin has no criminal record, and was unquestionably not planning a violent protest. It is a sad day when India starts behaving like China (unless we start doing well in table tennis, but this is not the place to be flippant).

Amardeep Singh posts on the subject here, and Desi Pundit is also tracking it. And here are some previous posts by me that touch on the subject of individual freedom in India: 1, 2, 3, 4.

(Some of the links here via mailing list email from Peter.)

Update: Space Bar writes in to say that while she opposes the Indian government's clamping down on Tsundue's freedom of speech and movement, he's not necessarily quite so non-violent. In a post on the subject, she cites Tsundue as writing:
A general apathy over Tibet and this non-action "non-violent freedom struggle' is slowly killing the movement.
Space Bar also points to a piece by Pankaj Mishra in which Tsundue is quoted as saying, "what's wrong with blowing up a few bridges?"

In any case, he wasn't about to blow up any bridges here. Such it is, such it goes.
amit varma, 11:15 AM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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