Friday, November 21, 2014

Power from the mainland to Roof of the World

Xinhua has just announced that the Tibet-Sichuan grid is now functional.
The launching ceremony was chaired by Yu Zhengsheng, Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), who declared operational the power lines linking the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to Sichuan Province.
The function was held  in Beijing.
Xinhua reported that the opening of the 1.08 billion U.S. dollar project linking Chamdo in the TAR and the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze in Sichuan Province, aims at "putting an end to the electricity shortages of the 500,000 residents of the Chamdo region and ease power strain in Tibet as a whole".
The news agency further explained: "The complex interconnection circuits stretch 1,521 kilometers across the plateau at an average altitude of 3,850 meters and its construction involved more than 20,000 staff over eight months, according to the State Grid Corporation of China."
Before the official launch, Yu inspected the power 'dispatching center' at the State Grid's headquarters where he met workers and engineers involved in a grid construction.
He was accompanied by Chen Quanglo, the TAR's Party Secretary.
The billion-yuan question is: will this investment still be used to send electricity from Tibet to Sichuan or vice-versa, once the dams on the Brahmaputra are complete.

According to China Environment Forum of the Wilson Centre in the US:
The West - East Electricity Transfer Project, initiated in the Tenth Five-Year Plan (2000-2005), was designed to bring investment and development to China’s lagging west while satisfying the growing electricity needs of the country’s eastern provinces. The project’s first phase has been and is continuing to expand the western provinces’ electricity-generating capacity, primarily through the construction of new coal bases and hydroelectric dams.The project’s second, ongoing component is the construction of three electricity-transmission corridors, which are essentially three vast networks of electrical transmission lines that connect newly built generation capacity in the North, Central and South to China’s electricity-hungry coast (see arrows on map). Each of the corridors is expected to exceed 40 gigawatts (GW) in capacity by 2020—a combined capacity equivalent to 60 Hoover Dams. The seven recipient provinces — Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Guangdong — together consume nearly 40 percent of China’s electricity.
A few pictures of the grid and the function.

 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Nehru’s pacifism had nearly cost us Tawang

My article Nehru’s pacifism had nearly cost us Tawang appeared in The Pioneer today.

Here is the link...

It is entirely due to Major Bob Khathing's courage and swift action, backed by the Assam Governor, that Tawang is part of India. Had Jawaharlal Nehru had his way, it would have been Chinese territory today


While the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru is being discussed by ‘eminent’ personalities at the Nehru International Conference, organised by the Indian National Congress to commemorate Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary, it is perhaps time to stop using the usual clichés about the first Prime Minister’s 17 years at India’s helm. By the way, I seriously doubt if many of the invitees of the conference have read any of the 58 volumes of Nehru’s Selected Works.
During the recent months, many have questioned the audacity to compare Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to Nehru, but it is obvious that the Sardar would have been a far more decisive Prime Minister than the Pandit. Remember Kashmir.
In a rare interview, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, who was Director of Military Operations at the time of independence, recounted a historic meeting presided over by Lord Mountbatten held at the end of October 1947: “There was Jawaharlal Nehru, there was Sardar Patel, there was Sardar Baldev Singh… I knew Sardar Patel, because Patel would insist that VP Menon [Secretary in the Ministry of States] take me with him to the various states.”
The young Brigadier continues his narration: “At the morning meeting [Mountbatten] handed over the [Kashmir’s Instrument of Accession] thing. Mountbatten turned around and said, ‘Come on Manekji (he called me Manekji instead of Manekshaw), what is the military situation?’ I gave him the military situation, and told him that unless we flew in troops immediately, we would have lost Srinagar, because going by road would take days, and once the tribesmen got to the airport and Srinagar, we couldn’t fly troops in. Everything was ready at the airport.”
The future hero of the Bangladesh War then recalls: “As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He said, ‘Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away?’ Nehru said, ‘Of course, I want Kashmir. Then [Patel] said, ‘Please give your orders’. And before he could say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and said, ‘You have got your orders’.” Without the Sardar, Kashmir would be Pakistani today.
In February 1951, Tawang found its own ‘Patel’ in Jairamdas Daulatram, the Governor of Assam, (the Iron Man of India had passed away two months earlier). Daulatram ordered a young Naga officer to go and immediately begin administrating Tawang (the then Kameng Frontier Agency).
A couple of years ago, an Indian journalist, Sidharth Mishra, provided a fascinating and detailed profile of Major Bob Khathing, the Naga officer in charge of the Sela sub-division: “In 1951, Major Bob Khathing commanded a force of 200 soldiers and re-established India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, much to the annoyance of Jawaharlal Nehru.” Some other documents, such as the ‘official’ biography, Major Bob Khathing — The profile of a Nationalist Manipuri Naga by Lt Col H Bhuban Singh, complete the picture of Major Khathing’s expedition.
An incident mentioned by Mr Mishra is worth a comment. Once the administration of Tawang was firmly under control, the bold Naga officer went back to Shillong to report to his mentor, Jairamdas Daulatram.
Mr Mishra writes: “So, he set out downhill to Tezpur with a small retinue, leaving the expeditionary force in charge of [Major TC] Allen. The Governor sent a Dakota to pick him up from Tezpur and they flew to Delhi to see Jawaharlal Nehru... The then Prime Minister was livid. ‘Who asked you to do this?’ he vented his anger at the Governor. ‘I wish you had the good sense to consult me before you commissioned this colossal stupidity. I want a complete blackout on this incident’, he ordered the PMO.”
Nehru’s orders were religiously executed: Today it is practically impossible to find anything on Khathing’s expedition in the Government’s archives. Nehru certainly had some inkling about the happenings in Tawang in the first months of 1951. Lt Colonel Bhuban Singh wrote: “From Bob’s side too, wireless messages after wireless messages were sent to Charduar [Assam Rifles headquarters], Shillong [seat of the Governor of Assam responsible for NEFA] and onward to New Delhi giving details of what he was doing. At the same time, he sought approval of Government of India for the actions he had taken and intended to take.”
Major Khathing’s biographer added: “Shillong [Rustomji] and New Delhi were aghast with what Bob did. They must have preferred a peaceful, non-violent and Panchsheel type of approach. While Shillong was reduced to a mere post-office forwarding information only, lots of consultations and conferences took place in New Delhi and lots of tea were drunk without any decision. In the meanwhile, Bob was… instructed not to precipitate a crisis.”
Major Khathing’s direct interlocutor was Nari Rustomji, the Advisor to the Governor of Assam for the Tribal Areas. SN Haksar, an ICS officer serving as Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, was at the receiving end in New Delhi. Nehru, being the External Affairs Minister, was undoubtedly regularly informed by Haksar of such a sizeable military expedition.
It is possible that when Jairamdas Daulatram decided to send more than one hundred Assam Rifles troops (with over 600 porters) to Tawang, Nehru did not realise the implications of this decisive action for the nation. Retrospectively, it was a blessing for India as, if he had realised, Tawang would probably be Chinese today.
A top secret report entitled, ‘Major Khathing’s Detailed Report About Tawang, sent in April 1951 by the Secretary to Advisor to the Governor of Assam to SN Haksar, is the best proof that the Prime Minister was in the loop. Nehru may have said: “Who asked you to do this?”, but the fact remains that he was informed.
It is also a fact that it was legally the prerogative of the Governor of Assam to occupy any Indian territory under his responsibility and Tawang was definitely part of India since 1914. So, what was wrong in administrating a part of Indian territory?
A Chinese study on the McMahon line admitted that at that time, the Chinese had no clue about the border between India and Tibet: “When the 18th Army led by [General] Zhang Guohua invaded Tibet, they still did not have a Tibetan map that they could use. They only had a rough and simple map of Tibet showing subdivisions. There was not even a standard road map. The names of the places and the villages were neither precise nor accurate.” It is only in 1954-55 that Mao Zedong discovered  Tawang had been administrated by Tibet before 1914. Too late then for China to ‘liberate' Tawang!
And thanks to Major Bob Khathing’s courage and swift action, it was too late for even Nehru to impose his pacifist views.
This does not mean that Nehru was not a great man in many other respects.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Military Infrastructure on the Tibetan plateau enhanced

Yang Chuantang is an important member of 18th CPC's Central Committee and Minister of Transport of China.
I am reproducing below his interview published by China Tibet Online.
It is entitled Tibet’s transportation roadmap: Transport Minister.
Yang Chuantang, a native of Yucheng, Shandong province, knows Tibet very well. Yang was first posted in Tibet in 1993; he then held the position of administrative vice-chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region's (TAR) Government.
He was later elected vice-governor of Qinghai province in 2003; in 2004, he returned to the TAR and became secretary of the CPC's Tibet autonomous regional committee (in other words, Party boss).
Yang Chuantang served as Vice-Chairman of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission from 2006 to 2011 and in 2013, the old Tibet-hand became China's Transport Minister.
Last months, I already wrote about the road network on the Tibetan plateau.
What is interesting in the interview is the mention of the Fifth Tibet Work Forum held in January 2010. The Forum usually decides China's Tibet policy for the next decade.
Regarding transportation, five points were made:
  • Investment and financing mechanisms were decided
  • Setting up of a transportation network covering Lhasa and six prefectures
  • Infrastructure construction and maintenance to be continuously supported (by the Center).
  • A public information platform to be set up for tourism, cargo and passenger transport.
  • Better transportation facilities to be provided to support the national aid campaign for Tibet (financial support from other Chinese provinces).
Of course, a crucial objective, the strategic and military one, is not mentioned in the interview.  This gives a tremendous advantage to China vis-a-vis India particularly in the border areas (opposite India).

More on transportation on the high plateau
Yesterday Xinhua announced that "China's vast and fast-growing high-speed rail network will extend into the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as a route linking Xinjiang with inland is scheduled to start running through Qinghai Province next month. ...The train will run at a speed from 200 km/h to 250 km/h on the plateau, reducing the travel time between Qinghai capital Xining and Gansu capital Lanzhou to one hour. After the operation starts, it will only take seven hours for a train to run from Xining to Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region."
Chao Yang, chief engineer of the Qinghai division explained: "It marks China has mastered technologies of making and operating high-speed trains in areas of high-altitude and extreme low temperature."
Xinhua added: "The high-speed rail is expected to spur the growth of tourism, mining and trade on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau."
And it will tremendously enhanced the military infrastructure!

'Tibet’s transportation still lags behind when compared to that the national average level'


Tibet’s transportation roadmap: Transport Minister
China Tibet Online
November 18, 2014
 
Editor’s note: Chinese President Xi Jinping called on people to promote the "spirit of the Qinghai-Tibet Highway and the 'Sichuan-Tibet Highway in August. What roles have these two highways played in the development of Tibet’s transportation today? What measures have the Tibet Transport Department adopted to ensure the smooth operation of these two highways? And what support will the central authority and local departments concerned provide for the development of Tibet’s transportation system? In a joint interview by xinhuanet, people.com.cn and chinanews.net, Yang Chuantang, China's Minister of Transportation expressed his views as follows:

The roles of 'Two Highways'
The Qinghai-Tibet Highway and the Sichuan-Tibet Highway were constructed under harsh natural conditions over five years, which is a miracle in the history of highway construction on the 'Roof of the world'. The opening of the two highways has ended the days when there was no highway in Tibet, and has also changed Tibet’s traditional mode of travel and created a new epoch in the course of transportation in modern times.
For some time now, 95 percent of aid goods have been shipped to Tibet via the highways. On top of this, supplies for 105 key projects, equipment for quake relief, and construction materials for the Qinghai-Tibet Railway have also been transported into Tibet through the highways.  
In terms of construction, the Qinghai-Tibet and Sichuan-Tibet highways were the most difficult, complex, and challenging of the time. How to maintain smooth transportation along them is also a hard nut to crack.
The past six decades have seen rapidly improving developments in Tibet’s transportation system. By the end of 2013, the total mileage of Tibet’s highway had reached 70,000 kilometers, with 20 national and regional routes, 71 roads, and many rural roads with Lhasa as their center. These new roads and highways form a network covering three economic zones in the central, eastern and western parts of Tibet. Besides, there are five airports of civil aviation in Tibet, with 48 domestic and international airlines reaching as far as Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Kathmandu as well as another 25 cities. The first extension of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway from Lhasa to Shigatse was completed and put into operation in August this year.

'Maintaining Tibet’s highways is also very difficult'

Maintenance essential to ensure smooth transportation  
Apart from the geographical conditions and harsh climates, maintaining Tibet’s highways is also very difficult. For example, the frozen earth on the Qinghai-Tibet highway made it difficult to maintain a smooth road surface, and the Sichuan-Tibet highway has been stricken by frequent natural disasters such as rainstorms, landslides and mudslides.
Even after the two highways were completed, a lot of improvements and enlargement have been made to keep transportation running smoothly along them. In the past 60 years, 9.7 billion yuan has been invested in the renovation of the two highways, and 600 experts have been dispatched to Tibet to upgrade and apply new technologies to the building of roads on frozen earth, building of bridges, and highway maintenance.
At present, the main roads including the National Highway 109 (the Qinghai-Tibet Highway), the National Highway 214 (the Yunnan-Tibet Highway), the National Highway 219(the Xinjiang-Tibet Highway), the National Highway 317(the Sichuan-Tibet Highway)and the National Highway 318(The southern part of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway)have been basically paved, forming a highway network in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The expressways in Tibetan-inhabited areas of Sichuan and Qinghai are also currently under construction.

Next steps  
The past two decades have seen huge developments in Tibet’s transportation system. However, Tibet’s transportation still lags behind when compared to that the national average level.
A general guideline was put forward at the Fifth Conference on the Work of Tibet in 2010 that transportation should be developed first in order to fulfill the goal of building a society of moderate prosperity in all aspects by 2020.  
Therefore, new concepts and models should be adopted to improve the efficiency of development, for which the following plan was devised:
First, a reform in investment and financing mechanisms will be conducted.
Second, a fast and comprehensive transportation network covering Lhasa and six prefectures will be set up, and a plan based on the comparative advantage of each means of transportation will be made.
Third, infrastructure construction and maintenance will be supported continuously. In the 13th Five-year Plan period (2016-2020), heavier investment will be made in the building and maintenance of highways for national defense, national and regional highways, and rural roads. Management on the maintenance of these roads will also be strengthened, and the capacity for emergency response will be improved.
Fourth, a public information platform will be set up because highways are the most important means of transport in Tibet for tourism, cargo and passenger transport. Transport infrastructure at border ports will also be improved.
Fifth, better transportation facilities will be provided to support the national aid campaign for Tibet in matters of finance, cadres, personnel, education, science and technology, and management.
Tibet will also coordinate with the national departments concerned for more funds, technical support and experts for the future development of its transportation system.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

China’s New Silk Road must steer clear of terror haven Pakistan

Gen. Fang Fenghui, PLA's chief of general staff
and Gen. Rashad Mahmood, chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan
My article China’s New Silk Road must steer clear of terror haven Pakistan appeared in NitiCentral.

Here is the link...

Can China isolate itself from developments happening on the soil of its ‘all weather friend’ Pakistan? Will not the New Silk Road, which will allow free circulation of goods and people, be the perfect vector for further spreading terrorism?

Can China isolate itself from developments happening on the soil of its ‘all weather friend’ Pakistan? Will not the New Silk Road, which will allow free circulation of goods and people, be the perfect vector for further spreading terrorism?
This week witnessed the frostiest Handshake of the Year.
On the side of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping met the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and after years of tension in the East China Sea, they shook hands. BBC World Service said:
“The most awkward handshake ever? The body language between China’s president and Japan’s prime minister looked decidedly frosty.”
Twenty seconds worth watching (especially, the faces of the 2 leaders)! But that was a thaw, a small beginning!
Also, US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘circling each other warily at a global summit in China’ as Associated Press put it: “On the surface, were all niceties — a pat on the back here, a pleasantry there,” but tough goings during three separate encounters.
And the most awkward — in a chilly night of Beijing, a chivalrous Vladimir Putin’s wrapped a shawl around the shoulders of Peng Liyuan, Xi Jinping’s wife. That is just not done in today’s China.
The South China Morning Post said that the incident was soon “scrubbed clean from the Chinese internet, reflecting the intense control authorities exert over any material about top leaders.”
It was probably better for Narendra Modi to have skipped altogether the mega event. His presence could have hardly helped advance India’s interests.
Indirectly interesting for India was Xi Jinping’s pledge to grant $40 billion to a Silk Road Fund for the infrastructure of his pet project. Xi stated this would alter the economic landscape of a vast area stretching from Asia to Europe. It could ultimately be a conduit for destabilising the Middle Kingdom.
As Xi met with leaders of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Tajikistan, he made a five-point proposal to promote the interconnectivity in the larger region.
Some of China’s neighbours immediately applauded. Ashfaqur Rahman, former Bangladesh ambassador to China, affirmed: “Revival of the ancient Silk Road will also help to further deepen ancient ties with countries in the region, including Bangladesh.”
It is not clear how the new Silk Road Economic Belt would reach Bangladesh, though Xi’s second baby, a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, will certainly use Bangladesh’s harbour facilities.
Amazingly, Xinhua quoted Rahman saying the project would contribute immensely for easy exchange of knowledge and ideas, who cited the construction “of a second rail line, this time from Lhasa to Nyingtri to the east, parallel to India’s Arunachal Pradesh.” Probably the first time, that Xinhua speaks of ‘India’s Arunachal Pradesh’.
On the sidelines of the Summit too: “Islamabad pledges assistance in Beijing’s anti-terror fight against militants said to be active in the restive western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region,” said Reuters.
Don’t laugh! It is what the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated during his meeting with President Xi Jinping.
Though most analysts doubt the existence of organised terror groups in Xinjiang, Beijing regularly blames ‘terrorists’ of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement for carrying out attacks in the restive region.
This did not stop Sharif to tell Xi that Pakistan would “continue to resolutely fight the East Turkestan Islamic Movement terrorist forces.”
Sharif also promised to increase Islamabad’s coordination with Beijing on Afghanistan to ‘jointly maintain regional peace and stability’.
This tall promise comes at a time when the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also known as Islamic State (IS) is said to have heavily recruited in Baluchistan.
The Dawn mentioned a recent ‘secret report’ in which the IS claimed to have recruited “a massive 10 to 12,000 followers from the Hangu and Kurram Agency tribal areas”. The report from the Home and Tribal Affair Department of Balochistan admitted: “It has been reliably learnt that Daish has offered some elements of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and Ahl-e-Sunnat Wai Jamat (ASWJ) to join hands in Pakistan.”
The IS would plan to attack military installations and Government buildings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in retaliation to the army-led Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan and also target members of the minority Shia community.
The warning comes days after six top commanders of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have announced their allegiance to the new caliph Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi.
Can China isolate itself from these developments happening on the soil of its ‘all-weather friend’? Will not the New Silk Road, which will allow free circulation of goods and people, be the perfect vector for further spreading terrorism?
In HuffPost, Nathan Williams rightly wrote: “The geographical separation [with West Asia] does not mean China is completely safe; the Islamic State does not have to attack the area in order to bring chaos and conflict to Western China. According to Wu Sike, China’s Special Envoy to Middle East, over a hundred Uighur have enlisted with the Islamic State. Should these insurgents return to Xinjiang with weapons and combat experience, the possibility of organised terrorist attacks made against China will increase dramatically.”
Has Xi Jinping thought of this possibility? He can’t certainly be reassured by the Pakistan’s empty words.
On October 16, China Military Online reported that Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa, director general of Inter Services Public Relations of Pakistan, was on a 5-day visit to China. The general bragged that the border management between China and Pakistan was very effective, and the security on both sides was closely coordinated.
Bajwa denied the rumour that terrorists from China’s Pishan County were trained in Pakistan: “There are no facilities or infrastructure for any training by any kind of terrorists across the China-Pakistan border”, he asserted.
The good general however added something worrying for India: “Pakistan takes enemies of China as our own enemies. We fight against Taliban; we fight even more vigorously against any enemy of China. That’s how much we love the Chinese brother.”
It is touching, isn’t it?
Bajwa said the 125 tons of explosives were recently confiscated and over 1,000 terrorists apprehended or killed, “The operation now enters the last phase and has made remarkable achievements.”
If true, it is good, but what about The Dawn’s information?
China Military Online reported that the Pakistani Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Rashad Mahmood was also seen in Beijing, beginning of November. He met the Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang who hailed ‘the mutual support between China and Pakistan on core-interest related issues’.
Rashad answered that his country supported China’s core interests: “That will not change … as fighting terrorism is a key issue for both countries.”
He thanked China “for its support of Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and security.” Does it mean that without China, Pakistan would cease to exist?
In the meantime, China has jailed almost two dozen people, including ‘wild imams who preach illegally’ in Xinjiang.
Xinhua announced that during a mass public sentencing, 22 suspects were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 16 years.
One thing is for sure: China takes more seriously the issue of terrorism than Pakistan. It would perhaps be in the interest of the leadership in Beijing to close down the branch of the New Silk Road going to Pakistan and let their ‘loved Pakistani brothers’ sort out their own problems (‘remain in their own juice’, as the late B Raman once wrote). The new Silk Road could certainly wait.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nehru Papers come back to India

An old dream of mine has been fulfilled: the Nehru papers have been transferred from the heir of the Nehru family (Sonia Gandhi) to the Government of India (Prime Minister's Office). 
The 'Papers' are not 'private' anymore.
Last week, I had again written on my favourite topic in The Statesman.
The Indian Express yesterday reported that "Sonia Gandhi, Nehru’s granddaughter-in-law and the legal heir of his papers, has written to the [Nehru Memorial Museum and Library] to say that the family would have no problems if scholars were given access to them, it is reliably learnt."
From now on, permissions will be given by the Prime Minister's Office.

The Indian Express commented: "It is believed that this move by Nehru’s legal heirs is intended to counter impressions about Nehru’s position on several key developments of his time as PM, for example, regarding Kashmir or China."
Let us hope that this help to have a more balanced knowledge of the life and works of the first Prime Minister of India.

Here is my article in The Statesman (published on November 11):

During the first meeting of the National Committee for the Commemoration of Jawaharlal Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed the hope that the commemoration’s activities would be conducted in such a way that the common man became a part of the celebrations. That is nice.
Apart from the ‘Bal Swachhta Mission’, Mr Modi spoke of the ‘promotion of scientific temper among children’ as a prominent objective of the celebrations. That is exciting.
A host of eminent academics, scholars, retired bureaucrats and army officers took part in the deliberations of the committee; an interesting inclusion was the Director-General (DG) of National Archives of India (NAI), though it is true that the NAI has no permanent DG since Prof Mushirul Hassan left in May 2013, showing the lack of government interest for scholarly work and research.
As the Prime Minister invited suggestions on other possible subjects which could be included in the programme of the celebrations, I will give mine.
I believe that it would be the ideal occasion to promote the love of historical research among children and adults. In this context, the  committee should open to the public what are known as the Nehru Papers (also referred to as the JN Collection) kept in Teen Murti Bhavan, and this without any restriction.
It has been one of the greatest enigmas of  ‘modern’ India: how can the correspondence, notes, speeches of the first Prime Minister of India be considered ‘private’ and why should it be kept under the custody of one ‘private’ person (Mrs Sonia Gandhi)?
The State’s papers should never be ‘privatized’.
Apparently, Nehru had willed all ‘his papers’ to an organization to be created after his death (Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund). However, Nehru did not specify that thereafter special permission of the custodian would be required to access any file/document. Apparently, his daughter, Indira Gandhi added the odd rule that it should remain in the custody of her family.
The end result is that the Nehru Papers do not come under the Public Record Rules, 1997, which state that records after 25 years or more must be preserved in the NAI (and that no records can be destroyed without being recorded or reviewed). While legally, it is mandatory for each Government’s department to prepare a half-yearly report on reviewing and weeding of records and submit it to the NAI, the Nehru Papers are exempted. It would be fine to keep the papers as a ‘collection’, if they were openly available to the general public.
The Nehru Papers are an invaluable collection dealing with all topics under the Indian sky, looked after by the Prime Minister (Nehru was also Foreign Minister from 1947 till his death in 1964).
One can argue that the JN Collection is not completely closed; if one is ready to follow the cumbersome process and write to the ‘custodian’, one has technically a chance to have a darshan of the said file/letter.  But why always complicate the researcher’s life?
I have always wondered whether those who have practically closed the Nehru Papers to the public of India (not only to scholars), have ever read what Nehru wrote about secrecy?  On 27 August 1957, in a note to his Principal Private Secretary, he commented about some persons having been refused access to the National Archives of India ~ “I am not at all satisfied with the noting on this file by Intelligence or by the Director of Archives. The papers required are very old, probably over thirty years old. No question of secrecy should apply to such papers, unless there is some very extraordinary reason in regard to a particular document. In fact, they should be considered, more or less, public papers. Also the fact that a Communist wants to see them is irrelevant. I do not particularly fancy this hush-hush policy about old public documents. Nor do I understand how our relations with the British Government might be affected.”
One can hope that the committee for Nehru’s 125th anniversary will put this issue on its agenda, and as an offering to the memory of the first Prime Minister, will make his fabulous collection of historic documents available to each and every one in India (and abroad), wanting to study Nehru’s works.
It can be argued that the Nehru Papers have been partially declassified through the publication of more than 55 volumes of the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru (1947-1960), but for a researcher this selection cannot replace the ‘real thing’. Further, though the policy has been changed for the most recent volumes, the editor used to resume with a few words the letter/event/note which had triggered the Prime Minister’s answer; to read the interlocutor’s full questions/queries helps to better understand Nehru’s answer.
The committee would do India a great favour by opening the entire collection to the public. Speaking recently at the 42nd annual convocation of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Prime Minister said: “While Indian doctors have made a name for themselves across the world, the country needs to step up medical research, to keep pace with a fast-changing world. We should focus on research, particularly on case history. This can be a big contribution to humankind”.
It is not only in the medical field that research and scientific temper should be promoted, but in the historical field too, it should be encouraged. Young (and less young) Indians should be persuaded to research and dig in the past (the glories as well as the goof-ups) in order to better face today’s reality.
Let me tell you my personal experience in the National Archives of India which I have been frequenting for the past 15/20 years. Every two years, I have to reapply from scratch and prove again that I am still a ‘scholar’. Being born in France, I have to bring a certificate from the French authorities ‘proving’ that I am still a ‘researcher’. Though the French Embassy has always readily obliged, why can’t I be a ‘scholar’ for life?
When I ask the NAI staff, I am invariably told: “No Sir, this is the rule in India, you can be a scholar for two years only.” What nonsense!
If the Prime Minister wants to build a nation of researchers ‘with scientific temper’ there are many rules to drop and many vaults to open. Today, a string of antiquated rules and regulations, red-tapism and an obscurantist mindset not worthy of a dynamic country like India, remain in place. As a result, Indian history continues to be buried. Is it the hallmark of a mature nation?
The opening of the Nehru Papers would be the greatest homage to Nehru and an exceptional opportunity for scores of young scholars to see what went right (and what went wrong) in Modern India.
When a couple of weeks back, Narendra Modi flagged off the ‘Run for Unity’ from Rajpath to commemorate Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s 139th birth anniversary, the Prime Minister affirmed: “Sardar Patel’s life is a journey of deep-rooted courage, dedication and service to the Motherland. The country which forgets history can never create history and go forward, so for a country filled with aspirations, a country whose youth has dream, we should not forget our personalities of history.”
As India should not forget Patel, it should also not forget Nehru. For this, the Nehru Papers should become ‘public papers’; why should they forever remain ‘private’? That would be a national tragedy.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Who is Taming who?

My review of Taming Tibet, Landscape Transformation and the Gift of Chinese Development appeared in The Statesman today 
It is a well-researched book
 
Who is Taming who?
Taming Tibet, Landscape Transformation and the Gift of Chinese Development
By EMILY T  YEH
Cornell University Press

Yeh’s book is a scholarly and refreshing addition to the study of the ‘Chinese gift of development’ to inhabitants of the Roof of the World... A review by Claude Arpi

IT is very fashionable to write about Tibet. You get a couple of interviews with the Dalai Lama; you pay one or two visits to Dharamsala, the ‘Little Lhasa’ in Himachal where the Tibetan leader lives in exile since 1960; you write a few chapters on human rights’ violations in ‘occupied’ Tibet, without forgetting the horrendous self-immolations and that is it. You have got the right cocktail to profitably sell your book and propagate the usual clichés about the Tibetan Diaspora and their cause.
The book under review is different, primarily because Yeh has been to Tibet; she lived with Tibetans and speaks perfect Tibetan as well as the ‘new’ language (Chinese). Further with her academic background, she has been able to understand and analyse the issues at stake.
Yeh starts with a beautiful description of the Tibetan ‘landscape’, a word which will come again and again in her narration: “Sunlight pierces through the thin air above the Tibetan plateau and reflects off the golden roof of the Jokhang Temple, the religious centre not just of Lhasa, but of all Tibet. Buddhist chronicles envision the Tibetan landscape as a gargantuan supine demoness, and Tibet’s conversion to Buddhism as her taming by a set of temples that bolt her to the earth across vast expanses of territory. At the centre is the Jokhang, the temple that pins down her heart. It is the destination of a lifetime for Tibetan pilgrims.”
For 13 centuries, the Central Cathedral in Lhasa has been the ‘heart’ of Tibet and despite the Communist takeover in 1950, scenes like in Jokhang can still be witnessed; it is what makes Tibet so different from any other nation living under a ‘foreign’ yoke.  The outside landscape has however greatly changed during the past 50 years or so. Yeh notes that the ones prostrating are only pilgrims and old local Tibetans, not students, Chinese Communist Party members or Tibetans employed by government; they would get into serious trouble with the party, if they dared to do so.
Let us not forget that Tibet is still under the Communist Party’s control. A few days ago,  The Tibet Daily reported that Chen Quanguo, Tibet’s Party Secretary, affirmed that China would not hesitate to stamp out any separatist inclinations: “As for cadres who harbor fantasies about the 14th Dalai [Lama] Group, follow the Dalai Group, participate in supporting separatist infiltration sabotage activities, they will be strictly and severely punished according to the law and party disciplinary measures.”
Secretary Chen’s position is not new, but one could have hoped for a softening of Beijing’s Tibet policy with the arrival of President Xi Jinping on the scene.
Yeh speaks of Princess Wencheng, the Chinese wife of Emperor Songtsen Gampo who is “constantly evoked to symbolise the close past and future intertwining of the Tibetan and Han peoples, the apotheosis of the unity of the nationalities, for which all citizens of the People’s Republic of China must strive.”
The situation has recently worsened. In July 2013, The People’s Daily announced a Wencheng Opera showing how the Chinese princess “overcame difficulties on her way to Tibet to promote socio-economic and cultural communication between Hans and Tibetans.”
Bhikruti, the Emperor’s Nepalese wife has been sent to the oubliettes of history; it would not be 'politically correct’ to tell mainland Han tourists that the wisdom (i.e. Buddhism) came from the Indian subcontinent.
It is said that more than $120 million had been invested in the project; the Opera is enacted by 600 actors on a 100 meter-long stage in front of a newly-built mini Potala Palace, a few kilometres away from the real one. The Tibetan blogger and dissident Tsering Woeser, who lives in Beijing, but frequently visits Tibet, explained: “In reality this is a project to rewrite history, to ‘wipe out’ the historical memory and culture of a people. This is a ‘win-win’ project that can both make money and be a tool for brainwashing people with propaganda.”
Yeh’s Taming Tibet, is the result of sixteen months of ethnographic fieldwork between 2000 and 2009. “Yeh traces how the transformation of the material landscape of Tibet between the 1950s and the first decade of the twenty-first century has often been enacted through the labor of Tibetans themselves”, says her publisher.
In her introduction the author mentions: “the violent protests in Lhasa in 2008 against Chinese rule were met by disbelief and anger on the part of Chinese citizens and state authorities, perplexed by Tibetans’ apparent ingratitude for the generous provision of development.”
For the Communist leadership, before 1950, the ‘old society’ in Tibet was ‘poor, backward, isolated, and stagnant feudal serf society’; then, the Communists came and Tibet was ‘liberated’.  Yeh argues: “With the incorporation of Tibet into the territorial boundaries of the PRC as a modern nation-state, the performance of gratitude became a demand on citizens rather than just a ritual between rulers.”
She points out that Beijing’s central argument is that “the (Chinese) State and Han migrants selflessly provide development to the supposedly backward Tibetans, raising the living standards of the Han’s ‘little brothers’.”
Some particularly fascinating chapters deal with “Cultivating Control: Nature, Gender, and Memories of Labor in State Incorporation”, of Tibetan landowners preferring to rent their land than cultivate themselves, often becoming prey to unscrupulous migrants who refuse to pay their due; captivating too is Yeh’s analysis of “Indolence and the Cultural Politics of Development”, which shows that Tibetans prefer ‘indolence’ and accept the present situation without protesting too much (except when violence erupts like in 2008).
Since Yeh wrote her book, the situation in Tibet has changed for the worse. In January 2010, Beijing decided on a large-scale promotion of tourism on the Roof of the World. The Communist propaganda today says: “Tibet with its mystery is the spiritual Garden of Eden; and is longed by travellers at home and abroad. Only by stepping on the snowy plateau, can one be baptised by its splendor, culture, folklore, life, snow-mountains, holy mountains, sacred lakes, residences with local characteristics and charming landscape.”
Tibet is fast becoming the largest entertainment park in the world; a thousand times larger than Disneyland. The leadership in Beijing has found a more sophisticated way to submerge the Tibetan population under waves of Han Chinese. Tibet has two unique assets: first, its physical reality. The beauty of the landscape, the imposing mountain ranges, the purity of the air and the rivers, the dry pure sky. The second advantage is the rich historical past of the Roof of the World, the mysterious Land of the Lamas. In Tibet, you can find everything, says the Chinese propaganda: the monasteries and nunneries, seat of a wisdom lost in the mainland; the folkloric yak or snow-lion dances, etc. Of course, the ‘locals’ are not always reliable and their knowledge of Mandarin is often not that good; it is not so important as the shows can go on without them.
When 13 millions of ‘tourists’ pour in a relatively small place like Lhasa, one has to be ready to ‘receive’ them and provide them ‘entertainment’. It is what the Party does. In the last three years, the Communist leadership has managed to completely change the ‘landscape’ of the Roof of the World. It is a real tragedy. Yeh’s book is a scholarly and refreshing addition to the study of the ‘Chinese gift of development’ to inhabitants of the Roof of the World.

The reviewer is an expert on China-Tibet relations and author of  Fate of Tibet

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jawaharlal: did he want Tawang or not?

A few years before he passed away, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw told the following story: “(On arriving at Delhi from Srinagar on October 26, 1947), the first thing I did was to go and report to Sir Roy Bucher [The Commander-in Chief of the Indian Army]. He said, 'Eh, you, go and shave and clean up. There is a cabinet [Defence Council] meeting at 9 o'clock. I will pick you up and take you there.' So I went home, shaved, dressed, etc. and Roy Bucher picked me up, and we went to the cabinet meeting. The cabinet meeting was presided by [Lord] Mountbatten. There was Jawaharlal Nehru, there was Sardar Patel, there was Sardar Baldev Singh. There were other ministers whom I did not know and did not want to know, because I had nothing to do with them. Sardar Baldev Singh I knew because he was the minister for defence, and I knew Sardar Patel, because Patel would insist that V.P. Menon [Secretary in the Ministry of States] take me with him to the various states.”
The young brigadier continues his narration: “At the morning meeting [Mountbatten] handed over the (Instrument of Accession) thing. Mountbatten turned around and said, ‘come on Manekji (he called me Manekji instead of Manekshaw), what is the military situation?' I gave him the military situation, and told him that unless we flew in troops immediately, we would have lost Srinagar, because going by road would take days, and once the tribesmen got to the airport and Srinagar, we couldn't fly troops in. Everything was ready at the airport.”
The future hero of Bangladesh war then recalls: “As usual Nehru talked about the United Nations, Russia, Africa, God almighty, everybody, until Sardar Patel lost his temper. He said, 'Jawaharlal, do you want Kashmir, or do you want to give it away'. Nehru said,' Of course, I want Kashmir. Then [Patel] said 'Please give your orders'. And before he could say anything Sardar Patel turned to me and said, 'You have got your orders'.”

The Tawang Expedition
Four years later, Tawang found its own 'Patel' in Jairamdas Daulatram, the Governor of Assam.
Daulatram ordered a young Naga officer to go and set up the Government of India’s administration in Tawang area (then Kameng Frontier Agency). Only later did Daulatram mention the operation to Nehru; by then, the job was done.
A couple of years ago, an Indian journalist Sidharth Mishra wrote an article entitled, Forgotten: The man who won us Tawang, about a Naga officer, Major Bob Khathing who headed the operation.
On the occasion of Khathing’s 100th birth anniversary, Mishra provided a fascinating and detailed profile of the officer who later served in the Indian Frontier Administrative Service.
Mishra explains: “In 1951, Major Bob Khathing commanded a force of 200 soldiers and re-established India’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, much to the annoyance of Jawaharlal Nehru.”
As Mishra’s article has a few inexactitudes, I am posting today extracts of the ‘official’ biography Khathing entitled Major Bob Khathing — The profile of a Nationalist Manipuri Naga, by Lt. Col. H. Bhuban Singh (published by Pritam Haoban publisher in Imphal in 1992).
An incident mentioned by Mishra is worth commenting. It appears that once the administration of Tawang firmly under control (wrongly written ‘Towang’ by Khathing), the bold Naga officer went back to Shillong to report to his mentor, Jairamdas Daulatram.
Mishra writes:
Once the expedition was over, Bob had a final task to do — to go back to the Governor and inform him that he had carried out his duty without firing a shot (except for the fireworks to create the ‘Voice of God’). So, he set out downhill to Tezpur with a small retinue, leaving the expeditionary force in charge of [Major T.C.] Allen. The Governor sent a Dakota to pick him up from Tezpur and they flew to Delhi to see Jawaharlal Nehru.
The story continues:
The then Prime Minister was livid. ‘Who asked you to do this?’ he vented his anger at the Governor. ‘I wish you had the good sense to consult me before you commissioned this colossal stupidity. I want a complete blackout on this incident,’ he ordered the PMO.
Nehru’s orders were religiously executed: today practically impossible to find anything on Khathing’s expedition in the Indian Archives.
It is however not correct to say that Nehru did not know anything about the happenings in Tawang in the first months of 1951.
Lt. Col. H. Bhuban Singh, Khathing’s biographer wrote:
From Bob’s side too, wireless messages after wireless messages were sent to Charduar [Assam Rifles headquarters], Shillong [seat of the Governor of Assam responsible for NEFA] and onward to New Delhi giving details of what he was doing. At the same time, he sought approval of Government of India for the actions he had taken and intended to take. Shillong and New Delhi were aghast with what Bob did. They must have preferred a peaceful, non-violent and Panchsheel type of approach. While Shillong was reduced to a mere post-office forwarding information only, lots of consultations and conferences took place in New Delhi and lots of tea were drunk without any decision. In the meanwhile, Bob was told by Shillong to be patient and understanding and above all, sympathetic [with the local population], as if he had terrorized the local people. He was further instructed not to precipitate a crisis.
Khathing’s direct interlocutor was N. K. (Nari) Rustomji, the Advisor to the Governor of Assam for the Tribal Areas and through Rustomji, S.N. Haksar, an I.C.S. officer serving as joint secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
Nehru, being the External Affairs Minister was bound to have been regularly informed by Haksar.
How could a joint secretary have taken such important decisions (or non-decisions) without referring this issue to his minister?
It is however possible that when Jairamdas Daulatram decided to send more than hundred troops of the Assam Rifles (with more than 600 porters) to Tawang, Nehru did not realize the implications of this decisive action for the nation. Retrospectively, it was a blessing for India, as if he had realize, Tawang would probably today be Chinese.
However, Nehru certainly knew about the happenings in Tawang once the operations had started.
A proof is a top secret report entitled ‘Major Khathing’s Detailed Report About Towang’ sent in April 1951 by Haliram Datta, the Secretary to Adviser to the Governor of Assam to S. N. Haksar in New Delhi.
Datta wrote: “In continuation of Shri N.K. Rustomji’s demi-official No.CGA.6/51, dated 3rd April 1951, I am directed to enclose here with a copy of a detailed report from Major Khathing for the information of the Government of India.”
Nehru may have said: “Who asked you to do this? I wish you had the good sense to consult me before you commissioned this colossal stupidity”, but the fact remains that he was informed when as the expedition was progressing.
However it was legally the prerogative of the Governor of Assam to occupy any Indian territory under his responsibility and Tawang was definitely part of Indian since 1914.
So, what was wrong occupying a part of India's territory?
Another point which is rarely mentioned is the local Monpas where delighted by the arrival of the Khathing expedition. The Tibetan ‘administration’ only consisted in forcefully collected taxes, which the local people often could not afford to pay; the corvee tax (ula) was particularly unpopular.
Interestingly, for years the Chinese government did not react to the Khathing expedition.
A Chinese study on the McMahon line admits: “Not being clear about the Indo-Tibetan border is clearly reflected in the map drawn by the troop that invaded Tibet.” The study further explains:
Regarding the map that the PLA used while invading Tibet, when the 18th Army led by Zhang Guohua invaded Tibet, they still did not have a Tibetan map that they could use. They only had a rough and simple map of Tibet showing subdivisions. There was not even a standard road map. The names of the places and the villages were neither precise nor accurate. This map was found in the archives of the resource committee of the KMT [Kuomintang]; it was made by the British by doing air survey. On the top was inscribed the route followed by Zhao Erfeng while he invaded Tibet [in 1910].
Later it was discovered that the map contained many mistakes:
If we waged a war using this map, there was no way that we could win’, remarked an officer. Then, the Chief of Staff of the 18th Army, Maj. Gen. Li Jue decided that the PLA needed to form a group for surveying and drawing a proper map as soon as possible; in order to study the terrain, Tibet’s landform and prepare an accurate map. On 23 July 1950, after the front line reached Garze [Kangtse], the first team to survey and draw the map of Tibet was formed.
It is only in 1954 that the Communist regime in Beijing discovered the old KMT maps claiming the entire NEFA as Chinese territory.
But to come back to Nehru’s role, he was certainly informed, though perhaps not at the initial stage. Thanks to the guts of Bob Khathing, it was impossible for Nehru to later back out and deny the existence of the 1914 border Agreement between Tibet and India.


Extracts of  Major Bob Khathing — The profile of a Nationalist Manipuri Naga, by Lt. Col. H. Bhuban Singh (published by Pritam Haoban publisher in Imphal in 1992).

On 6th February, Bob left for Tawang. The distance from Jang to Tawang was 12 miles. The initial climb of 2 miles was very steep and this was followed by a gradual climb of 4 miles upto Sarul ranges. At a bridge across a small stream, before the final climb to Tawang started, the Indian Expedition party was received by representatives of Tsona Dzongpen. The Expedition party camped outside Tawang near Gyankar. The day was the Tibetan New Year Day (First Day of Iron Hare year). In the evening, there was a heavy snow fall and the villagers commented that it was a very good omen.
Next day in the early morning, Khathing accompanied by Captain Limbu and Shri Katuk Lama went to western and then eastern upper slopes which overlooked the ancient Tawang monastery to select a site for the establishment of a permanent administrative headquarters of Assistant Political Officer of Sela Sub-Agency. The selected site should have sufficient area to house a small military cantonment, police lines, civil lines, office accommodation, residential accommodation, schools, hospital and so on, In addition,, a parade-cum-playground would also be required, which would consume lot of area. No suitable site was found as the ground was too undulated and broken.
In the afternoon, porters were paid and most of them returned to Dirang area. There was shortage of money too. So, some of the porters, who came from Dirang Dzong proper and nearby villages, were told to get payment from Transport Superintendent, Dirang Dzong. With the departure of about 600 (six hundred) porters, the camp locked deserted. The military component of Bob’s party was a company of Assam Rifles less one platoon, and therefore had more than 100 (one hundred ) men. In addition, the civilian official component was also over 20 (twenty) men. So with arms, ammunition, tentage, ration, camp furniture office equipment documents and stationery etc. the number of porters required was large. Tawang, with just about 300 houses then might have a population of about 2000. The presence of Bob’s party of nearly 800 with a substantial number of armed personnel must have been formidable and awesome.
The morning of the next day, that is, 8th February 1951 was again spent on reconnaissance for site selection, with Captain Limbu in tow. At last, a suitable site was located in the area north-east of Tawang monastery with sufficient area for playground etc. and having a good water source. The area was wasteland or khasland, but it seemed to Bob that the NEFA administration had to pay compensation for acquiring the land.
In the afternoon, Bob got busy on the job for which he had been sent and come. He called the Tibetan and monastery officials for a meeting. Notices were served on the two Dzongpens and other officials. Since intelligence reports indicated that the Tibetan officials did not like the Indian presence and had accordingly warned the local Monpas from co-operating with the Indians. There upon the newly arrived Assistant Political Officer of Sela Sub-Agency decided on a show of strength. He informed Charduar and Shillong about what was happening and sought clear-cut orders to implement the amalgamation of Tawang area to India, by force, If necessary.
Despite the fact that the local Monpas had close religious and cultural ties with Tibet and despite knowing the fact that Tibetan susceptibilities might be wounded, Bob was determined to flex his muscle. A nice high-ground close to Tawang Monastery, the seat of power, was selected for meeting the Dzongpens, elders and local people. Bob marched his troops from campsite to the meeting place. His one hundred riflemen formed a box completely encircling the high-gound, a reminder of pre-Napoleanic battle formations. On Instruction from Bob, Captain Hem Bahadur Limbu ordered “fix bayonet” to his troops. One hundred “click” sounds of bayonets coming in unison seemed to say “we are even ready for blood”. The shining bayonet blades reflected flickeringly the golden rays of the setting sun in a cloudless afternoon of 8 February 1951 at Tawang. The Dzongpens and officials did not attend the meeting. But they must had been watching the scene from peep-holes of the monastery, and receiving the message, However, the crowd which had gathered, must had realized which camp to side with.
Exuding supreme confidence and exhibiting rare charm, Bob held court for the crowd which included some elders and leaders as also women and children. He spoke to them through interpreter. He told them that the people should not have any apprehension about any interference on their monastic rituals and functioning. Religious freedom was assured by him now and also for future too on behalf of the new administration. He explained to them that the constitution of the new Republic of India tolerated religious freedom and even Godlessness and irreligiousness, As Indians, they would enjoy the same rights and privileges as enjoyed by, say, a Bengali, or a Bihari, or a Maratha, or a Punjabi. All Indians were equal, he hammered into the brains of the Monpas. It is arguably conjectured here that Bob’s Mongoloid features and tribal frankness must had produced electrifying trust in what he said to fellow Mongoloid Indians of Tawang. Had a clever and highly qualified say, a Punjabi A.P.O. been sent to Tawang, it is doubtful if he could had been as successful as Bob, This great Republic of India, inhabited by people of Aryan stock of Mongoloid origin, of Dravidian ancestry and of Negroid family (Andamanis etc) must be made greater and fully integrated. Unfortunately India will never be integrated unless there is a sense of all-round participation in government and the sharing of common national responsibility by all section of the people. The key to national integration are participation, belongingness and joint responsibility. Big words uttered in National integration. Council meetings speak less and mean nothing. Action speaks more and effectively too.
Bob, the intensely patriotic Indian tribal from Manipur, talked unmistakably in tough words. He said that no representative of Tibetan Government could exercise power any longer over the people inhabiting areas south of Bumla Range, which he considered, was the McMahon Line. They would not pay any more tax to the Dzongpens. Instead, they would pay only Rs.5/- per annum per house. They would also enjoy liberal Indian Administration as free citizens. He informed them that no one was above law and all were equal before the eye of law.
Whether Bob subjugated the people of Tawang or liberated them from serfdom is for the world to decide. But one thing is very clear-that is, Bob did his job. Nari Rustomji, in his own words, said that the Government of India could not have found a fitter man than Bob for this job. The crowd welcomed and cheered Bob’s announcements, while the Dzongpens and Tibetan officials sulked. Sure enough. The Dzongpens sent message to Lasha [Lhasa] who in turn complained to India’s Consul General in Lasha, and ultimately, the complaint went to the External Affairs Ministry through Gangtok in Sikkim. From Bob’s side too, wireless messages after wireless messages were sent to Charduar, Shillong and onward to New Delhi giving details of what he was doing. At the same time, he sought approval of Government of India of the actions he had taken and intended to take. Shillong and New Delhi were aghast with what Bob did. They must had preferred a peaceful, non-violent and Panchsheel type of approach. While Shillong was reduced to a mere post-office forwarding information only, lots of consultations and conferences took place in New Delhi and lots of tea were drunk without any decision. In the meanwhile, Bob was told by Shillong to be patient and understanding and above all sympathetic, as if he had terrorized the local people. He was further instructed not to precipitate a crisis.



To read the report of the entire expedition, click here...