Archive for June 5th, 2009

‘Blood stains can’t be wiped out by getting rich’

5 June 2009

The collective memory of the Chinese of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 has been wiped clean on the ground that if the tanks hadn’t rolled in, China would have descended into social chaos and the Chinese economy wouldn’t have been opened up, transforming its destiny over the last 20 years.

Venkatesan Vembu, the east Asia correspondent of DNA, sees a parallel between China’s efforts “to move on” by harping on its economic strides, and Narendra Damodardas Modi‘s efforts “to move on” from the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 by using the plank of industrial development.

“Although the precise details of the Indian parallel are admittedly different, what it has in common with the Tiananmen case-study is an emerging mindset that believes that the bloodstains of history can be wiped away by “making people rich”….

“But the harder China’s Communist rulers try to erase the memory of Tiananmen, the more it becomes manifest that for all their claims that Chinese people have “moved on” from 1989 in their embrace of riches, China today continues to be haunted by the ghosts of that massacre.

“Likewise with Modi, the memory of 2002 cannot — and should not — be erased until some semblance of justice is seen to be done to the victims, and the perpetrators of the riots are punished. Only that will exorcise that persistent memory. In the absence of that, attempts to whitewash that tainted record count for nothing. Even all the riches of the world cannot remove the bloodstains of history.”

Read the full article: Modi and Tiananmen

Also read: ‘Gujarat was vibrant long before Narendra Modi

Why the US is right to deny Narendra Modi a visa

The Economist calls Narendra Modi ‘a disgrace’

A nice picture for Sharad Yadav’s personal album

5 June 2009

Defeat does different things to different people, but the use of death as a metaphor is revealing of a retrograde mindset unwilling to concede, comprehend or come to terms.

# In 2006, after the NDA had been surprised by the UPA, the BJP leader Sushma Swaraj vowed not to wear coloured clothes, threatened to shave her head, sleep on the ground and eat groundnuts (while also presumably wiping off her extra-large bindi, breaking her bangles and removing her mangal sutra) if the Italian-born Sonia Gandhi became prime minister.

Thankfully, an “inner voice” spared us the gruesome sight, but somehow the election of Ms Gandhi as the chairperson  of the ruling UPA, didn’t prompt Ms Swaraj, the newly elected deputy leader of the BJP in the Lok Sabha, from wanting to carry out her threat even partially.

But the more things change, the less politicians learn.

India has elected its first woman President, Pratibha Patil. India has elected its first woman speaker of the Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar. And the highest number of women (59) have been elected to this, the 15th Lok Sabha, in post-independent India.

# Yet, Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav has threatened to commit suicide by consuming poison if the women’s reservation is passed in its current form. “We may not have the numbers but I will consume poison and die here but not allow the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill.”

Mr Yadav is the convenor of the BJP-led National Demcoratic Alliance (NDA), or what remains of it as of now, and he is of course entitled to his opinion.

Obviously, the caveat “in its current form” has a built-in escape clause, but if the BJP or the NDA or both plan to do some chintak on why only 18.8 people out of 100 in an 80 per cent Hindu nation do not trust them to hand them the reins of the nation, maybe they should start by wondering why they are so unappealing to one-half of the population?

Photograph: courtesy

Also read: One question I’m dying to ask Sushma Swaraj

The difference between India and China is this

5 June 2009

No media debate on Asia is complete without comparing India to China, or vice-versa. Even among middle-class media consumers, there is a barely disguised contempt for the slow pace of growth in democratic India, for all the “obstacles” in the path of progress and development, compared with the frenetic pace in The Middle Kingdom.

But is there a comparison to be made at all?

Is China really in India’s league, notwithstanding the growth rate, the forex reserves, etc?

On  top is a CNN video of its Beijing correspondent attempting to go to Tiananmen Square on 4 June 2009, the 20th anniversary of the massacre, before being engulfed by umbrella-weilding “undercover” police.

As the legendary Atlantic Monthly correspondent James Fallows, now based in Beijing, writes:

“This is the kind of thing that makes you hold your head and say: Rising major power in the world?”

And this, on top of a ban on Twitter and Facebook, and censorship of television stories which begin with “In China today…” or “Twenty years ago in Bei….”

Also read: James Fallows: The June 4 report

T.J.S. George in China: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI