Mr Ram does a hatchet job on the Dalai Lama

A thank you note to his Chinese hosts

Periodic indoctrination (and re-education for recalcitrants) is in the scheme of things in countries ruled by Communist parties. Reading his attack on the Dalai Lama in The Hindu yesterday, it looks like N Ram has just returned from one in China. The Dalai Lama’s principal fault, according to Mr Ram, is that he is seeking independence for Tibet.

Dissect the article and Mr Ram’s biases become apparent:

while the Tibetan Buddhist doctrine of reincarnation belongs to the mystical-religious realm and asks a lot from 21st century believers, the Dalai Lama’s approach even to rebirth is decidedly ideological-political.

Twenty-first century believers are asked to believe in a lot of things: the relevance of communism, or socialism with Chinese characteristics, China’s “peaceful rise” or for that matter, The Hindu being India’s ‘national newspaper’.

As for grounds for selecting his reincarnation, the decision is entirely the current Dalai Lama’s. What grounds he uses—and no succession is free from politics—is his business. A reasonable conclusion to make is that the Dalai Lama is a political leader. Why should that be wrong?

Historical records show that the institution of the Dalai Lama as an ‘incarnate’ politico-religious supremo “recognised and empowered by the Chinese central government” began in the middle of the 17th century,

Notice the clever use of the word ‘central’ instead of ‘imperial’. There was no ‘central’ government in China in the 17th century—there was an imperial one. Empires—Chinese ones especially—operate quite differently from ‘central’ governments. Going by Mr Ram’s definition, much of continental South East Asia and Korea must belong to China.

Even if we were to accept Mr Ram’s version of history, it is possible to construct a legal argument that challenges the People’s Republic’s claim to Tibet. Since the Chinese empire was succeeded by the Republic of China, currently based in Taiwan, it is Taipei that should do the recognition business.

This problematical side is a function of the interplay of a host of subjective and objective factors. They are the Dalai Lama’s religious charisma combined with the iconic international status of Tibetan Buddhism; his long-lastingness and tenacity; his alignment with colonial interests and western powers and the ideological-political purposes he has served over half a century; his considerable wealth and global investments, and resources mobilised from the Tibetan diaspora in various countries; the grievous cultural and human damage done in Tibet, as in the rest of China, during the decade of the ‘Cultural Revolution’ (1966-1976); the nature of the ‘independence for Tibet’ movement that has rallied round the person and office of the Dalai Lama and follows anything but the Buddhist ‘Middle Way’; the links and synergies he has established with Hollywood, the media, legislators, and other influential constituencies in the west; and, most troubling from a progressive Indian standpoint, the reality of a continuing Indian base of operations for the ‘Tibetan government-in-exile’.

Shorn of the verbosity, Mr Ram is saying that the rich, subborn old man is supported by democracies, is popular with the West and refuses to die.

If he were just a pre-eminent religious leader, there would be no problem in accommodating him within the constitutional framework that guarantees religious freedom to all citizens and regional autonomy to ethnic minorities in extensive parts of a giant country.

Note: the giant country he’s talking about is China.

Equally important, he has repeatedly spoken of ‘six million Tibetans.’ He has falsely accused China of rendering Tibetans, through a state-sponsored policy of population transfer and Hanisation, into a ‘minority’ in their own land. The plain truth, borne out by official censuses and easily verifiable by foreign observers and experts, is that Tibetans constitute more than 92 per cent of the population of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

This would require the reader to either be very credulous, or make a trip to Tibet to do a headcount, permission for which is likely to be denied.

The Dalai Lama has even accused the Chinese socialist state of unleashing a ‘holocaust’ and exterminating more than a million Tibetans.

Anyone who saw that video of Chinese soldiers gunning down fleeing Tibetans recently should have little trouble accepting that the Dalai Lama’s accusation might have a grain of truth. Way back in 1959, the International Council of Jurists noted there was a ‘prima facie case of genocide’ in Tibet. The Dalai Lama’s accusations are substantiated by this list of books, from various authors. The only defence Mr Ram can cite would come from those official censuses again.

If the 14th Dalai Lama has his way, a single ‘de-Hanised’ administrative unit, which will be formed by breaking up four Chinese provinces, will appropriate one-fourth of China’s territory instead of the one-eighth covered by TAR.

The fact that Mr Ram conveniently ignores is that the four Chinese provinces were created by absorbing the erstwhile Tibetan provinces, and that they were “integrated” through a programme of deliberate transmigration.

There have been other political provocations under the guise of exercising traditional religious authority. On May 14, 1995, in a pre-emptive bid, the Dalai Lama in exile in India recognised the boy Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, sight unseen of course, as the 11th Panchen Lama. However, in December 1995, the Chinese central government, going by centuries-old custom and tradition that empower it to recognise and appoint both the Dalai and the Panchen Lama, approved the enthronement of Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Erdeni.

When the ‘central’ government appoints someone, it is going by ‘centuries-old’ custom, but when the Dalai Lama does so, it is a ‘pre-emptive’ move and a provocation under the ‘guise of exercising religious authority’. Here Mr Ram contradicts himself: if he and his principals in Beijing believe that the Lamas are religious leaders, then the ‘central’ government should have no business in appointing them. So they cannot simultaneously accuse the Dalai Lama of being a political leader and also deny him the right to carry out his religious imprimatur.

In an era of China’s unprecedented economic growth, inclusive and nuanced socio-political and cultural policies

You shouldn’t read this sentence without having someone trained in the Heimlich manoeuvre standing by.

Update: N Ram’s piece has also been fisked here by Shencottah

36 thoughts on “Mr Ram does a hatchet job on the Dalai Lama”

  1. From the last para,

    ”During our visit to Tibet in June 2007, Nima Tsiren, vice-chairman of the regional government, responded to a question on the Dalai Lama by citing an observation made by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao at a Beijing press conference on March 16, 2007: “We will not only hear what he has to say; more importantly, we will watch what he does. We hope that the Dalai Lama will do something useful for China’s unity and the development of Tibet.””

    This man is so shameless!

  2. Excellent post. Didn’t think any Indian public figure could be shameless enough to be an apologist for the Chinese central government’s role in Tibet, but apparently Mr. Ram’s got friends in high places in China.

    “If he were just a pre-eminent religious leader, there would be no problem in accommodating him within the constitutional framework that guarantees religious freedom to all citizens and regional autonomy to ethnic minorities in extensive parts of a giant country.”

    Mr. Ram, I think the Uyghurs of China would like to have a word with you about this travesty.

  3. Great dissection!!! Mr. Ram takes his orders from CPM central committee. It is they who decide what is to be ‘news’ for hindu readers. A kind of left’s version of pioneer. CPM gets its feed from China. Hence the behaviour of the Hindu.

    Of course, that does not absolve him from writing a crappy piece on Tibetan freedom movement. The arguments that he provides are dumb. Hope sanity prevails, or else, Mr. Ram gets his freedom back.

  4. I wonder what you thought of N. Ram’s previous article on the growth of the economy in Tibet? (published on July 3rd) It just seemed to extol the greatness of the Chinese government for developing Tibet.

    And somehow, N Ram puts the blame on the Tibetan Authority for not doing more for the development of the area over the past few decades. I want to know what Mr. Ram thinks the local government could have done when they had both hands tied! Plus, in one gigantic essay, there wasn’t a single mention about the impact of Chinese actions on the culture of Tibet!

  5. Nitin,

    Twenty-first century believers are asked to believe in a lot of things: the relevance of communism, or socialism with Chinese characteristics, China’s “peaceful rise” or for that matter, The Hindu being India’s ‘national newspaper’.

    You shouldn’t read this sentence without having someone trained in the Heimlich manoeuvre standing by.I was grumpy having met a tax-auditor who declared that I need to pay more tax. These lines livened me up. Top class satire. May be you should shun brevity once a while and entertain us like this 🙂

    Btw, have you guys read this blog?

  6. ” most troubling from a progressive Indian standpoint, the reality of a continuing Indian base of operations for the ‘Tibetan government-in-exile.’”

    Support for an Indian base of operations for the Tibetan government is a *progressive* stand, for such a stand courageously and unequivocally speaks against Chinese imperialism. To oppose it would be regressive.

    Comrade Ram, like Humpty Dumpty, seems in the habit of using words to mean whatever he wants them to mean.

  7. Oldtimer,
    Ram uses progressive as a euphemism for Communists. So one should not equate the word progressive with the progress 🙂

  8. Ver honestly till now I was in awe of N Ram as a jurno, sply his work on farmer suicide but after reading this…I was like am I reading right. Is this what Mr Ram really thinks? Or just because Hindu and China have communism in common that this piece was born? How can peace loving Tibetian compared to the Violent mercenaries in Kashmir?Thanks for writing this Nitin.

  9. Super dissection of this pro-commie, anti-religious nonsense – thanks, Nitin. It never ceases to shock me that some in the Indian media are still so blindly pro-China. I wonder what they will say when the Red Flag is flying from Tawang monastery in Arunachal.

  10. Hi Nitin

    Kudos for laying threadbare the hypocrisy of Ram

    No suprise here.For long ,Ram has been making this ‘pilgrimage’ to his ‘fatherland’ and coming back to pay obeisance through his family publications

    Ramachandra Guha had written a excellent post in the year 2000 on the same subject

  11. Nitin,
    I don’t understand why you bother to give exposure to the religious rant of high priests as Ram. Their statements are subject to the same circular logic as: [god] exists because [the holy scripture] says so; [the holy scripture] cannot be wrong because it’s [god’s] words.

    As an aside, a good alternative to the Heimlich manoeuvre is this article from the Onion on the inclusive and nuanced socio-political and cultural policies… in the progressive worker’s paradise.

    Why South Chennai Morning Post? The original South China Morning Post will do for the folks who swore “China’s chairman is our chairman”!

  12. Hi Nitin!
    its pay back time for Ram..nauseating- his bias and ridiculous views..and a bad news, his daughter is also included in to the chinese pay list..her ‘specialisation’ is also apparently we have heir-apparent too ready..sigh sigh..

  13. Ram might start singing a different tune when China marches into Arunachal Pradesh just like they marched into Tibet…

    Will he gladly hand over 90,000 square kilometers of land to the Chinese?

  14. Terrific! I didn’t expect anything better from N. Ram anyway. I read this piece in Hindu yesterday and I was wondering if I was reading The Hindu or People’s Daily. Wikipedia notes that ‘On one side being overzealous in projecting itself as a champion of freedom of press and civil rights , The Hindu is part of Chinese embassy-sponsored pleasure trips for Indian journalists to occupied-Tibet and also in presenting write ups in accordance to the policies of China – an non democratic state.’ In other words, the trip was paid for by the Chinese embassy and therefore he had to sing peaens of China. A lesser known newspaper from Delhi – The Asian Age – also published a couple of articles on Tibet by its Senior Political Editor Seema Mustafa last week. They were less severe on Dalai Lama; however, they talked highly of China. Seems like she was also a part of this delegation of reporters.

  15. [China] “guarantees religious freedom to all citizens and regional autonomy to ethnic minorities”…

    Hai Ram ! Had to read that part twice.

  16. China’s occupation of Tibet is not imperialism and colonialism because Tibet “historically was always part of China.”

    But Israel’s “occupation” of Palestine, which also was historically part of the United Kingdom of Israel, is imperialism and colonialism.

  17. it is such an irony
    The Hindu= Anti hindu
    nyways n ram like many other Indian communists will only rest when India is an integral part of china under the great communist party banner , and The Hindu as their main mouthpiece…instead of the Peoples daily

  18. Nitin –

    I thought this was really well done. It is unfortunate the Dalai Lama cannot be critiqued on his actual faults, instead of the lies the CCP spreads about him. For example, the Chinese contention that pre-invasion Tibet was a desperately poor, brutal place were most likely accurate — in 1993, Alexandra David-Neel wrote that “thibetans” [her spelling] living in the outlying provinces actually did yearn for the return of Chinese because their Tibetan lords were so capricious… but, as you rightly say, that would have meant bringing in the ROK government under Kai-Shek, not Mao’s totally inhuman massacre.

    Though Kai-Shek was no picnic, his brutality never even skirted the lower bounds of Mao’s horror. To apologize for the genocide the Cultural Revolution imposed on Tibet is, simply, evil. What kills me as an American is when the Chinese compare their campaign in Tibet to my own country’s conquest of its natives, right down to committing wholesale genocide and rounding up the remainders into camps and reservations. The big difference is, we know view that period in our past with a tremendous amount of shame; China does not need to continue brutalizing an entire race.

  19. China occupies Tibet, Xinjiang(uyghurs) and inner mongolia. But the “anti-imperialist” Hindu willingly conscripts into the Chinese scheme to silence democratic dissent which furthers Chinese imperialism. N Ram’s newspaper is a disgrace that keeps prospering in our southern corner. BJP should have permitted FDI in media, atleast that would’ve decimated these comrades of totalitarianism.

  20. Someone should put an advertisement “Free Tibet!” in the Hindu and expose the fake commitment of these commies to freedom of speech.

    According to these harlots India has to forget 62 invasion but China can keep playing politics over Nanjing. Isn’t visit to Yasukuni Japan’s internal matter? And something that Chinese should “grow up” and “get over”?

  21. Not standing up for Tibet has been one of the most shameful things about the transnational elites -people who ga-ga over Palestinian ‘rights’ suddenly fall silent and slither away if you mention Tibet.

    No protests in the street against ‘occupation’.
    No fiery speeches at the United Nations.
    No editorials against ‘imperialism’.
    No resolutions at NAM.

    The world suddenly behaves in a most atypical way when it comes to Tibet.

    I suggest this -let those bloggers who would like to see a free Tibet put up a common, nicely designed ‘Free Tibet’ graphic on our blogs. The UN and other transnational busy-bodies are not going to do anything about Tibet.They are more interested in opposing Bush. It is only passionate individuals who can keep the issue in the world’s attention.

  22. Thank you for dissecting his work so well. This was no doubt a much needed response to his writing, especially since ‘Letters to the Editor’ with one’s thoughts on the piece would never get published.

  23. For once, people like N. Ram forget that China had some wonderful plans for India in 1962. Maybe they planned on extending the same courtesy to us as they did to Tibet. Maybe N. Ram’s idea of progress is throwing all the poor people out of the city to make it look pretty enough for the upcoming Olympic Games.

  24. Nitin,
    I did not have the stamina to read the full text of N. Ram’s article. All I could think of in reading this article was how much he must have been paid for this job by the Chinese government and by the size of the article whether he was paid by word count? It was as if when he shared the initial draft back to his patrons in China … they kept sending it back with the points that he missed… It was a hodge-potch of all the Xinhua and Beijing Review had been spewing about Tibet. All one needs to look at for sources of his ‘facts’ is to look at some issues of “China’s Tibet”. What he is included is essentially summaries of all their articles.
    Thank you for tackling some of his ridiculous notions…
    Unsubstantiated charges like the Dalai Lama’s “considerable wealth” invested in the west comes from his buddy Subramaniam Swamy.

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