Mahatma Gandhi once said “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent." Today, those who like to don the Gandhi cap and chant his mantras, but have otherwise butchered his ideology, have forgotten this. Fortunately, the Government of the day didn’t. If it had, we would have been starting a war with China. Or at least looking at a long drawn energy sapping conflict which would have distrated us from our goals. Fortunately, wiser counsel prevailed.
In the BJP’s worldview, it’s infinitely more glamorous to been seen as “doing something” or taking “some action”, rather than just “talking” to the enemy. It would show that India’s foreign policy is “strong”. Talking is what the weak do. If nothing, even just punching fists in the air will do. Action denotes intent after all, even if that action may achieve nothing, or worse, may actually cause bodily harm. The other option is to argue noisily and hope that the cacophony scares away the opponent. At least that’s what our TV anchors seem to think. Of course, we must appreciate that all of them – especially the one who runs Scam TV (the channel which has built its entire positioning on imagined scams) – are experts in foreign policy. No, actually they are experts in everything. It’s India’s loss that these dynamic and dashing sons and daughters work in TV studios rather than in Government. Had it been otherwise, India would have been growing at double the clip, and by now, would have reclaimed PoK and Aksai Chin. Arguing endlessly and noisily over TV is seen as brave and courageous, and counts as “doing something”. If only the usual dramatis personae of TV remembered that only “Empty vessels make noise”, they would understand exactly what we viewers think of them. It’s not the Chinese who ran away from the cacophony on TV; it’s the viewers. Maybe our opposition leaders and TV anchors should remember Abraham Lincoln instead: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
The right phrase of course is different. Deep waters run still. Soft influence is way better than aggro hardtalk. Hardline is over-rated. But then why blame those who never understood Gandhi. Why, didn’t they even say that Gandhi deserved to die because he was too soft on the Muslims? “The accumulating provocation of thirty-two years, culminating in his last pro-Muslim fast, at last goaded me to the conclusion that the existence of Gandhi should be brought to an end immediately.” is what Nathuram Godse said in his justification of killing Gandhi. Which party did he belong to? The RSS. What should one expect from such people and their descendents? To apologize and promise to learn Gandhi’s ideals? Or to continue demanding an eye for an eye even if in the process, we lose both our eyes, and maybe get a bloody nose as well? A party’s fundamental character cannot be corrected by one great figure – even if he is the Father of our Nation.
India pushed the Chinese back. Through “soft” Gandhian diplomacy. While never allowing jingoism to get the better of it. The Government stood its course. There were five flag meetings held. There was also a little smart local maneuver conducted – with India occupying some Chinese territory in a retaliatory, tactical ploy. You didn’t know about that? I didn’t either. Because publicizing that would upset the picture that had been so assiduously created: That India’s government was a coward. India’s government was anything but. It was savvy. It applied the right amount of pressure, and at the right points, and it never gave up dialoguing. One saw that soft pressure when the PM decided to stay back a day longer in Japan. That soft gesture rattled the Chinese. That made them realize that India wasn’t alone. That they could take on one Japan backed by a faraway US but not two close-by dadas? See….soft diplomacy worked better than the angry growl of a mongrel would have. What a masterstroke.
Will any lessons be learnt from this? Or will the obdurate BJP and even worse TV anchors simply move on to the next babbling brook? If one looks at the stuff that they have put out over the last two years, one realizes how much of a babbling brook they have been. Just froth, no substance. They intentionally misrepresented the 2G facts, calling a Government subsidy of spectrum a case of corruption. They intentionally misled the nation by calling the man who thought of, designed and executed coal auctions as to be the one who was corrupt. They shamed India just when it was getting ready to tell the world it had arrived by staging the CWG games….by making small cases of corruption look like a zillion-dollar mother. But then why should they care? All this may win them political power. That’s all that matters. Why, they cant even wait for their turn. They want to stop this government in its tracks. Paralyse it. Disallow it its legislative agenda. So what if the country watches aghast, wanting growth more than imaginary corruption numbers. It has no choice. It has to tolerate its deviant sons.
They may not remember Gandhi. Maybe Churchill is better? “If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another." But then, prosperity is something they don’t understand. During their six years of rule, GDP growth dipped from some 6.5% in the previous six to 5.5% under them. As soon as they left, irrepressible growth sprung back to 8.5%. And yet, they accuse this government of not delivering on growth? Yet, their PM aspirant who simply cannot wait for his turn, pretends as if he is the only one who understands growth? It would help if he first got a little education in economics, but then that’s another thing that empty vessels aren’t exactly know for.
The real truth is that like always India’s soft power won the day. Salman Khursheed was right. It was nothing but acne after all. The PM was right too. It was just a localized skirmish – the bosses in Beijing prefer hosting Khursheed and sending their new Premier Li Keqiang on his first international trip to India instead. Too bad for the BJP, and for our TV anchors. The story has to end. But then, there’s always another one to move on to. After all, we cannot expect a dog’s tail to ever become straight….