Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Mahatma and Tibet

If you have read Tibetean writing on their affairs prior to thier forceful "liberation" by China, thehy make a convincing case for thier independence.
But is this thier ultimate aim? I mean they will be the first to acknowledge that China is not going to not just grant them independence, especially on moral grounds, in response to a non-violent struggle.
There is no military solution possible either, China is much too powerful militarily.
The Dalai Lama has often cited his admiration for Mahatama Gandhi and the non-violent means he adopted to secure independence from India from the British.
So it might be interesting to examine wether a Mahatma could have made a difference in the Tibetean struggle. Or wether the Dalai Lama can forge a resoultion with his current tactics of non-violence.
Mahatma Gandhi had at his disposal a nation much larger than their rulers and our sheer numbers were always wieghted in India's favor. Not so when you compare the 5.5million Tibetean population to the 1billion Chinese.
Geography was another factor, the British realised that it had become increasingly less profitable to run an empire long distance. Again Tibet doesn't have that luxury especially with the railway line China has built to Tibet.
At the time India gained its independence, Britain was a power in decline badly crippled by a war that ha claimed an entre generation of its best and brightest.
China on the other hand has been on a spectacular growth streak, that shows now signs of abating.
Finally the British had a free press and a parliament, and enlightened people who were capable of asking for the moral justification in running colonies when they had just fought of the Nazi's in a brutal war to preserve freedom, democracy and equality.
No such qualms on China's side either.
I have no access to a gallup poll, but I'll wager that a majority of Chinese, are in favor of strong arm tactics to put down demonstrations in Tibet. Well even if I was wrong, it not like there is free press in China to tell me about it.
So in the ultimate analysis , Mahatma Gandhi would not have been able to do jack for Tibet.

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