Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Today, the people of Tibet mark 50 years of their failed uprising against China's Occupation.
Unlike this year's protests, the events that occurred one year ago, dominated the print and the screen media for several months that followed. What started as demonstrations against the Chinese occupation, turned violent and the anger against the non-Tibetan ethnic groups led to riots and looting.
These incidents in the run-up to the Olympics were threatening the elaborate PR stunt that China had prepared to the world to showcase its economic prowess, with state-of-the-art stadiums, fireworks and acrobats. China had too big stake in the Olympics to see it being overshadowed by a subject that could only add salt to its wounds. It responded immediately with the one thing it so capable of. Greater force.
These events led to International outrage and the "Free Tibet" backers tried everything possible to mar the Olympic Torch Relay and gain as much attention as possible. Just when the movement was at its peak, disaster struck! Earthquake hit Sichuan province killing close to 80,000 people. Critics, who have been, not so long ago, talking about autonomy, human rights, and the high-handedness of the Chinese police, were expressing their condolences and were instead talking of help, support and rehabilitation of the effected.
So, where is the movement heading and what are the chances of an ordinary Tibetan, ever living in an Independent/Autonomous region, freely practicing his culture, religion and language???
Lets face it. China has been investing heavily in infrastructure in Tibet to make it easy for its citizens to resettle in the region and to transport troops fast enough to crush any uprising. It has even enacted laws to respond to any crisis that threatens to compromise its "One China" policy. Tibet is long part of China and it will never let it go. In fact, even the Tibetans themselves do not consider Independence as an option.
So, the whole thing boils up to this point. Tibet wants to be part of China, but wants to keep its identity intact. It wants to be Autonomous. And this is where the problem comes. An autonomous region could control who could come-in and who not. It could have its own government, its own culture and religion, its own economy. Basically its own system. And this is absolutely against China's policies. It could not give a Hong-Kong like status to Tibet. So it tries to 'Chinize' Tibet.
In one of the rare documentaries that i have ever watched over Tibet, I could observe the process of 'Chinization' going on in every frame. Billboards with tiny Tibetan Characters dwarfed by huge Chinese once, sprawling housing complexes, shopping malls, wide roads and ofcourse Chinese tourists. However, China tries to sell this process to the world, with a wrap of, "Happy and Prosperous Tibet", under the hood of Communism. I was surprised to see how Image conscious are the Chinese when it comes to Tibet. A footage of a Tibetan businessman, showering praises over the Chinese rule, accompanied by local communist party leaders, sitting in a hall bloated in Red, and overhanging pictures of the Communist heros, is hardly beleivable.
China with its gargantuan economy is now in a position to command its terms to the world. And nations and its leaders distance themselves from the subject and are happy to maintain a status Quo, until the next big event.
I 'feel' there may come a day when the Tibetan culture, language and traditions shall remain guarded only in Libraries and Museums.
The live telecast of the Oscar ceremony has just begun. The over dressed presenter has been trying to get as many celebs as possible to get to speak to him. While the other was listing out the competition in the various categories and the chances of winning the Oscar for the German Movie, "Der Baader Meinhof Komplex".
However, what interests me, and that have kept me awake until this late hour, is the result of the "Best Picture" category. The result however is already enclosed in one of those golden envelopes to be opened in front of millions of viewers, very shortly. Yet, to many the winner is pretty clear. The Slumdog Millionaire. The BBC seems to have gone a step ahead to promote its home talent with the following headline.
23rd February 2009, 23:26:17AM, Munich, Germany.
The results are out. Indeed it is the "Slumdog Millionaire".
Anyways, the point is not if the "Slumdog Millionaire" won or lost it, but the very theme of the Movie: The Slumdog.
I have read several articles where authors have vehemently criticized the movie while some even called on to boycott it. Apparently even the Big B wasnt very impressed. And i pause to think: why is it so hard for so many Indians to digest the movie? All it portrayed was the ground reality. The Indian "underbelly". Was'nt it???
To me, the portrayal of the slums of Mumbai, in the movie, was not very offensive. Although it did cause a little discomfort, to watch how graphically it was presented. In fact, i was more uncomfortable, when i saw Shahrukh Khan getting down a Helicopter, and walking elegantly down the runway and through the magnificent halls of his palace, to be greeted by his Arthi wielding mother, in the movie, K3G.
To start with, why should one feel offensive about it? Slums are just part of every city's landscape in India. Some have even become their identity, as is the case with Dharavi. Weather one likes it or not, it is true. And there is no place for denial.
On the other side, it should however be noted that many in the west "still" see India as a place to achieve spiritual nirvana than as a place to make business, as a place with littering holy cows than four-lane highways, as a place where girl children are despised and damned to death than where they are loved and given equal opportunity in every aspect of life and as a place of slums and slumdogs than places of innovative ideas and hard-working citizens trying to make a difference, in a multi-cultural, secular, and a relatively weak democracy.
However, one should be thoughtful than ashamed and should tune-in to the melodious track of "Jai-Ho" and be inspired, than undermining one's spirit of hard-work and the focussed goal of reaching the top.
The Indian Slumdog,
Mr. Zardari's open admission that Pakistan is struggling to survive against the Taliban, the bold declaration of ceasefire by Taliban against the Pakistan's forces and the signing of an agreement for the implementation of Sharia Law against ending violent attacks in the region.
These events not only highlight the power and the reach of the Taliban, but also the sad plight of Pakistan's unstable government to keep in order what little of it is left in the region. The Taliban has arrived in Pakistan. It is making its presence felt. It regrouped, strengthened and re based itself in the region. The valley being just over 200kms away from Islamabad, make the matters even more harder to comprehend. Should we see it as the success of the Taliban to get a stronghold in the region so close to the capital or as the failure of the government not only on loosing control of the region but also for giving in to the demands of the group.
Implementing the Sharia law is just a pat on the back of the Taliban leadership for its performance. The region has already seen mindless destruction of schools, government buildings, implementing self-styled justice systems with beheadings of government supporters and sympathizers, and imposing a sense of fear among the people. So does this mean, its a clean chit to continue governing the region with its implementation of the Sharia. Then how is it different from what happened in Afghanistan??
Are we seeing just random incidents or is it the start of the birth of a new Afghanistan? What are the implications of these events on the World and importantly on India? Hard to understand ...
Pakistan is already widely known as a base for exporting Terrorism, with the latest example being 26/11, Mumbai. However, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the siege of the Lal Masjid by Islamic militants, added to these events show that the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism is spreading and finding roots and that no region, be it the tribal areas nor the capital, is immune to it.
Formerly isolated air strikes in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan by the coalition forces, have now become regular fortnight news, indicating that the focus of war is shifting from Afghanistan to Pakistan. The so called "Operation Enduring Freedom" is spreading. Isn't this scary ??