Friday, March 21, 2008

A tale of two civilizations

The two civilizations that fascinate me the most are the Indian and Chinese.
Having lived in the states for a while and having had the opportunity to interact with some Chinses people I can say we have probably more in common then say and Indian and an American.
The histories of both nations follows a similar pattern too. Both were powerhouses(cultural,economic and scientific) in ancient times, ruled by feudal warlords for the most part.
Both were bullied by colonial powers before starting out their futures as modern nations at rougly the same time.
But something went seriously awry at that point. While India chose the path of representative democracy, The chinese went the way of the authoritarian communism.
Why repeat a past everyone is aware of?
Merely to point out the extent of the gulf that exists between these 2 neighbours.
While China has Tibet , India has Kashmir.
China as has been witnessed over the last one week, will brook no dissent for its rule in Tibet.
The population has no channel to vent, so occassionally you will see these bouts of violence.
The "cultural genocide" description used by the Dalai Lama is spot on. The Chinese government has shown no inclination in preserving Tibetean culture.
Tibeteans can survive as long as they are willing to accept their fate.
To be honest I can't see things improving for the Tibeteans. In todays world, there is not one nation who isn't wary of China at some level.
Now to come back to the comparison I was drawing.
Not many will know that There is a law that debars Indians from buying land in Kashmir.
So as an Indian citizen, I can buy land in preety much any part of the world, but not in my own country(a part of my own country ie)
Whatever the merits of this law, it was enacted to pacify the average Kashmiri and reassure him that he would not be over run by millions and millions of indians.
China has shown no such restraint with Tibet.
I can't expect the Cinese government to change the way it deals with its problems,
But really would it be so bad to give the Tibeteans a voice?
Whats a few peaceful demonstartions with no media coverage going to accomplish in the larger context?
Allow peaceful demonstartions will go some way in ensuring this does'nt turn into a violent struggle(which would just lead to more dead tibeteans)

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