- Stepping up pressure, China blames Dharamshala for self-immolations (thehindu.com)
- The Dalai Lama Steps Out in India, as China Seethes (time.com)
- Tibet: China’s burning issue (independent.co.uk)
- Another Tibetan Sets Himself on Fire (time.com)
- Tibetan Buddhist leader shies from mantle of power (thestar.com.my)
Amid harsh rhetoric, Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Zhong Shan and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sounded some conciliatory notes on Wednesday.Mr. Zhong, making a 30-hour visit to the U.S. to try to ease bilateral tensions, expressed confidence that politicians from the two countries “have the wisdom and ability to resolve existing problems.“Mr. Geithner said he be- lieved China would allow its currency to appreciate over time, according to a CNN interview transcript. While the U.S. “can’t force them to make that change…I think we can work through the tough things we have together,“ Mr. Geithner said.The stakes are high for both sides. The U.S. and China are among each other’s biggest trading partners, and numerous U.S. companies have investments in China. The U.S. is increasingly looking to China to cooperate on international strategic issues, such as nuclear nonproliferation and the fight against terrorism. (via WSJ ON YUAN – China and U.S. soften tone on yuan).
Let the games begin!
The Dragon and the Eagle are squaring off! An experienced US stalks China, waiting behind high walls of US$2500 billion foreign exchange reserves.
The US-China game has started in earnest. US, egged on by ‘macho’ voters and a cheering media, will:-
- Act tough
- Behave in a morally outraged and indignant manner
- Commentators will prescribe a trade war and sanctions
In parallel, analysts, academics, think-tanks, journalists will talk-up China. Like Greenspan talking-up the US dollar or Dow Jones. They will: -
- Hold up China an nation-exemplar
- Write books analysing on China. Such books will start pour out of our ears
- Make movies and novels about the ‘dominant’ Chinese in the US
- Study, extol Chinese culture /tradition /history, and hold forth as a shining example.
And China will be ‘uncompromising’! Act as though, they have a choice.
The change in dollar-yuan exchange ratio will happen. Peacefully, or with violent side shows. Assuming that the dollar-yuan revaluation will happen smoothly, is fraught with risk. That it will happen, without any significant disruption, is one, big, huge, slippery assumption. What will follow the Chinese moment in the sun?
What remains to be seen
What could set off economic mayhem in China? Crime in China (a simmering threat), terrorism in Xinjiang (remote possibility), real estate bubble (a real scenario)?
Will the Chinese Government be able to ride this storm? Without a war with India? Which side of the fence will China fall? Answers to these questions will be worth waiting for! And prepared with!
Last time …
It would do well to remember that last time when China had a problem, it resulted in the India China War of 1962. Just after the disastrous Great Leap Forward and before the equally disastrous Cultural Revolution.
The Great Leap Forward began in 1957-58, saw famine and hunger across China. After the Communist takeover of China, land seized from land owners, was given to peasants in 1949. Ten years later, in 1959, the Chinese State took away the same land from the same peasant. Food shortages, starvation followed. Western (questionable) estimates are that 30 million people died during this period. War with India followed in 1962 – a diversion from the domestic Chinese catastrophe.
What will it be this time?
You got this one wrong
David, you are tracing blasphemy to people (like me) who worship rocks, trees, birds, animals, air, water, rivers, seas, mountains, fruits, sunrise, sunset, the waxing and waning of the moon, the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox, tools and weapons, water and milk – in fact (and in short) everything. And we are the subject of your cartoon.
Pagans, we are called by ‘others’. Probably, you too. And no, we don’t have the concept of blasphemy. So, David you got this one wrong!! Completely wrong. We, (who are mostly called Pagans) don’t and didn’t do the killings over blasphemy! Because,
We don’t worship The One!
History of blasphemy
If you are looking at a ‘modern’ phenomenon, like blasphemy, it is the history of Desert Bloc that you must look at. Over the last nearly 2500 years. During this period, the cornerstones of ‘modern’ societies, from the Desert Bloc like One God, One Book, One Holy Day, One Prophet (Messiah), One Race, One People, One Country, One Authority, One Law, One Currency, One Set of Festivals, et al were popularized.
From this Oneness, we get the One Currency, One Language logic – fallacious syllogisms, all. This quest of ‘Oneness’ is the root of most problems in the world – including blasphemy.
Birth of religions
Modern religions are a construct of the West Asia-Middle East – and the birth place of the 3 major religions of the world. Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the Indic system, belief structure centres around dharma – धर्म.
In the last 1000 years, India has also become ‘religious’. Indic people have started describing themselves as ‘Hindus’ – a geographical appellation, apart from /Buddhists /Jains /Sikhs. ‘Modern’ blasphemy laws in India are also derived from colonial roots of Desert Bloc origin.
The difference between धर्म dharma and religion? Major!
For one, religion is about worship. There are many other differences also – in method of worship (how you worship), object of worship (what you worship), frequency of worship (e.g. every Sabbath; five times a day, etc.), language of worship (what you say, in which language), etc.
Indic worship practices are infinite. Even non-worship to is acceptable – for instance, the Charvaka school of Indian philosophy was atheistic and did not prescribe worship. Structure and deviation from worship practices are a non-issue in Indian dharmic structure. धर्म Dharma has no equivalent in the ‘Desert Bloc’ vocabulary of religions. धर्म Dharma is the path of righteousness, defined by a matrix of the contextual, existential, moral, pragmatic, professional, position, etc. धर्म Dharma is more than moral and ethics.
Many more … and more on the way
The really big difference between religion and धर्म dharma is the holy books. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have one Holy Book each. No deviations. Indian धर्म dharma tradition has thousands which are more than 1000 years old – at last count. And some more on the way.
David, your two Pulitzers notwithstanding, you must do better than this. You cannot let your beliefs, prejudices, ‘received’ wisdom come in the way of ‘truth’.
Or your lack of knowledge!
Paris got a makeover in the time of President Mitterrand with the creation of La Defense and the revitalisation of the Louvre. And yet, its most visited tourist spots are the Eiffel Tower and historic district of Champs Elysees.
New York too embarked on an ambitious journey from inner city decay to Soho chic, reviving its rundown districts into fashionable areas; romanticised living in a historic brownstone became the ultimate New York real estate dream. Closer home, New Delhi is investing in its renaissance through infrastructure improvement and restoration of its medieval monuments in time for the Commonwealth Games.
And yet, whenever Mumbai’s makeover is discussed, we forget that the city need not be packaged as a business destination alone, with two World Heritage Sites in the city (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and Elephanta Caves) and two more in the state (Ajanta and Ellora), making Maharashtra a state with the maximum number of World Heritage Sites. (via The future of the Past).
Neglect of 2000 years of history
The most remarkable feature of Mumbai’s history are Buddhist caves from 1st century to 11 th century. In her article of more than 1800 words, how many times does the author, Abha Narain Lambah, mention Mumbai’s Buddhist caves?
Nil. Yes. That is right. Zero. Zilch. 零. Nul. Null. μηδέν. ゼロ. нул. cero.
The other aspect is the totally foreign (read Western) idiom that Lambah uses. Assuming she wanted to use international benchmarks, could she not find any conservation models from Turkey (Boghaz Koi for example), Egypt (the Cairo Museum?), Japan, China (The Forbidden City), Thailand (Ayuthya) – which comes to my mind at least. This ‘narrow-casting’ makes me shudder at the shallowness.
Abha Narain Lambah, is a practising conservation architect in Mumbai. A recipient of the Eisenhower Fellowship (USA) 2002, Sanskriti Award 2003 and the Charles Wallace Fellowship (UK) 1998, her projects have won five UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for Heritage Conservation.
Now how much of a chance does she have of winning commissions from Western multinationals and Western clubs (like UNESCO, et al) or from the ‘Westernized’ South Mumbai types – if starts off on Buddhist and Hindu shrines. For that matter, I doubt if she will win the Rs.28 crore contract /grant /sanction /approval it even from the Maharashtra Government?
Then there are others
To the lengthening line of non-specialists, who are re-writing Indian history, like Amaresh Misra (War of 1857), Anant Darwatkar (on Sambhaji Maharaj), Parag Tope (on Tatiya Tope’s role in 1857), Savitri Sawhney (on the Ghadar Party’s contribution to Indian Freedom Movement), Benoy K Behl (photography of Indian history), it may be early to now add the name of Anita Rane-Kothare. Her work on Buddhist caves of Mumbai is yet to make an impact.
Benoy Behl’s work is particularly very attractive.
Capturing Indian history across more than 20 countries, Benoy K Behl has spent,
almost two decades now, … to document the spread of Buddhism; his work evident in over 30,000 unique photographs that he has taken all over the world.
He has found that
“At many of these places people may not have seen present-day Indians but they still hold Indian culture in great regard”.
In Mumbai …
Two years ago, a historian, while researching traditional Indian methods of water harvesting, stumbled upon a series of ancient Buddhist caves in Borivli, which its custodians scarcely knew or cared about.
Initially, she was scared that the historical caves would crumble under the weight of the slum colonies that encroached upon them, but now she fears that the construction works being conducted on an adjacent plot might bring the structures down. (via Historian on a mission to save little-known caves – The Times of India).
While India has managed to obtain funding for ‘saving’ the gargoyle-infested colonial railway structures from UNESCO, breast beating activists have managed to increase awareness of structures funded by colonial loot and drug trade (of opium).
In all this, two things are forgotten.
One - Colonial versions show the start of Mumbai’s history when the Portuguese gave Mumbai as dowry to the British in 1661 – including a Government of Maharashtra website.
If there was no Mumbai before the British, where did these Buddhist caves (at Magathane, Kanheri, etc.) come from? Or did I miss the ‘fact’ that British first came to India in the 2nd century, made these Buddhist caves – and came back again to India in the 17th century, built these Gothic Victorian structures, and went away – which we ‘uncultured’ Indians are trying to save?
The Mumbai Municipal Commissioner, while decrying the attempts by the Indian neo-Colonial Rulers, to ‘save’ Mumbai’s colonial past, makes no mention of these Buddhist caves. While Kipling’s bungalow is a ‘hallowed’ institution, these Buddhist caves are dying of ‘active neglect’.
At the same time he seriously plays down the horrors of Mao’s tyrannical rule, writing that “he remains, even today, a venerated figure in the eyes of many Chinese, even more than Deng Xiaoping” and that the Communist Party “succeeded in restoring its legitimacy amongst the people” and fostered “extremely rapid economic growth,” “despite the calamities of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.” In addition he diminishes the importance of the pro-democracy Tiananmen demonstrations and dissident sympathies, arguing that there is an “apolitical tradition” in China and that “the Confucian ethos that informed and shaped it for some two millennia did not require the state to be accountable to the people.” (via Books of The Times – The Dragon vs. the Eagle in Martin Jacques’ ‘When China Rules The World’ – Review – NYTimes.com).
For this one insight …
The Dragon versus the Eagle analogy is just hot air! A lot of hot air. China is too busy playing footsie with the USA to challenge! But the bit about China being ‘apolitical’ is a gem.
This bit about, China’s “apolitical tradition” in China and that “the Confucian ethos that informed and shaped it for some two millennia did not require the state to be accountable to the people.” This one observation by Martin Jacques’ explains so much about world history – and modern Asian history.
The axis of Confucian-Platonic authoritarian, ‘wise’ rulers, who were not accountable, was (and remains) the overwhelming model for the world. Property rights remained with less than o.1% of the people. Under the CRER principle, (cuius regio, eius religio, meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) even the most personal religious beliefs of the individual were subject to State approval, as per law.
Pareto’s principle … Ha!
Yes – Pareto was wrong.
Rarely (do they at all?) do 20% of the people get to own 80% the national wealth. It is usually about o.1%. Look at America. Less than 300,000 people (from the Forbes /Fortune lists, the Government and the academia, media) who control the US – a population of more than 300 million.
The West scorns the Chinese one-party rule. But how does one more, collusive party in the national polity, in a ‘democratic set-up, become the paragon of political virtue. Did it ever occur to its defendants, that a two-party polity just an illusion of choice and change. But, it was the same lack of accountability – in a more invisible manner?
The only exception to this was the Indic system of polity – where property rights were vested with the user, justice was decentralized (did any Indic king dispense justice?), religion was maya and dharma was supreme. The modern Indian State has acquired the Desert-Bloc-Platonic-Confucian authoritarian principles of the State as parens patriae. So, the power of the Indic ideas is something that India seems to have forgotten, missed and lost!!
In Greater China
In Hong Kong Chinese movies, till the 1990’s, a recurring theme was the Buddhist monk. Until the modernist Jackie Chan goes to America versions started coming out, it was always the wise Buddhist teacher who taught the Brave ‘Chinaman’ to fight against feudal oppression. It was always the Wise Buddhist Teacher who showed the way.
Lee Kuan Yew – a Confucius bhakt
Now this explains why Lee Kuan Yew extols Confucian virtues of Greater Chinese. Is it surprising that the ‘modern’ Chinese Government is so afraid of Buddhist revival that they have put restrictions on the Falun Gong followers from doing breathing exercises in the open. Falun Gong which attracted nearly 10 crore followers in the last 15 years, seems to have made the Chinese Government nervous.
Contrast the faith that the Chinese have in Buddhist teachers with the representation of Church and priests in Hollywood and you will see the contrast. One set has been able to maintain trust and faith for more than 2000 years – and the other set seems to have lost it in less than a 1000 years.
Is it any surprise that the common Chinese loves and venerates the Buddha – and the Chinese Government lays so much emphasis on Confucianism?
- Beijing marks Confucius’s happy return, aged 2,561 (guardian.co.uk)
- Falun Gong wins Vancouver court battle (cbc.ca)
- U.N. envoy defends Falun Gong, “evil cult” for China (reuters.com)
- The Ancient World | China (guardian.co.uk)
Lee Kuan Yew has been rather dismissive about India always. Reason-India does not have ‘Confucian ethic’ that China has.
- China’s Kashmir: Hong Kong? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- The New York Times Comes Out in Favor of a Genetic Elite (delong.typepad.com)
- S’pore Urged to Lift Opposition Travel Ban (irrawaddy.org)