Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #112 - Meeting the Violence of a Moment; why vote for Trump

(Photo by Lavkush Gupta on Unsplash - at Sultanpur National Park, Gurugram, India)

“Don't hit at all if it is honorably possible to avoid hitting; but never hit soft!” ― Theodore Roosevelt


The charade that spirituality was only about being a benign smiling pacifist was perhaps the most brilliant idea that expansionist religions came up with. Even when their own intent was to obliterate every other human being on the planet, they would present their own ‘mascots’ as ‘loving, sacrificing, and presenting the other cheek when slapped on one.’ By doing so, the other - usually a person who was following some Dharmic way of life (whether it were the Greeks or the Natives of the Americas or the Aboriginies) would get mixed up.

While non-violence “sounded” very spiritual, it was creating perfect situations for the complete annihilation of those societies.

For, the aggressor selling this contaminant (non-violence and benign way), it was a great set up as he was prepared for a full ruthless attack to finish his target.

And, it was exactly what the British left India with.

Even when the independence came to India thanks to Netaji’s work and the Naval Mutiny of 1946, the popular narrative became that Gandhi, a pacifist was responsible for that freedom. All, because the Indian future could be crippled with that narrative being firmly planted as our central ethos.

And, they were not wrong.

What the British sowed with Gandhi, the Chinese reaped through Nehru in 1962.

India not just lost thousands of soldiers but also land and strategic advantage.

Chinese don’t respect weaklings. They enjoy them. That is what India was. An entertainment show for the Chinese.

Until Modi came.

The Chinese tried everything - the media proxies (remember they paid journalists?), the opposition (INC contract with CCP?), the Pakistanis and even the elite from Bollywood and intelligentsia.

No one could make much of a dent on Modi’s India.

So, China thought it was time they dealt with this errant entertainment piece - who was no more than a slapstick comedic midget from circuses of the yore, in their estimation - and taught it a nice lesson it will never forget!

But script went very very differently!

Galwan gave them a bloody nose, and Pangong lost them the heights in that area.

But they are not stopping. With perhaps the hope that India might believe in their rhetoric and take them as pacifist, even when they are busy targeting missile batteries at Indian cities and planning border attacks from Ladakh to Arunachal.

Only power and strength works against bullies who like to lie to get their way. Here is some portion of the beautiful poem शक्ति और क्षमा by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar. These words ring so true today. (You can read the entire poem at Kavita-Kosh, the one stop site for all Indian poetry)

क्षमा, दया, तप, त्याग, मनोबल
सबका लिया सहारा
पर नर व्याघ्र सुयोधन तुमसे
कहो, कहाँ, कब हारा?

क्षमाशील हो रिपु-समक्ष
तुम हुये विनत जितना ही
दुष्ट कौरवों ने तुमको
कायर समझा उतना ही।

अत्याचार सहन करने का
कुफल यही होता है
पौरुष का आतंक मनुज
कोमल होकर खोता है।

क्षमा शोभती उस भुजंग को
जिसके पास गरल हो
उसको क्या जो दंतहीन
विषरहित, विनीत, सरल हो।

The last stanza says that forgiveness looks good only for a snake that has venom. What will a non-venomous and non-threatening one’s forgiveness mean really?

Krishna’s main irritation with Arjun was very similar in terms of the confusion between pacifism and spirituality.

Before the war, no one wanted peace and negotiation. Kauravas had their ambitions to take care of and Pandavas their egos. Only Krishna tried to somehow create a truce. Even when he was humiliated every time.

At that time, Arjun was crazy about fighting the war.

Once he was on the battlefield, however, he started whining about the need to kill the warriors on the opposite side. “It is better to take sanyas (ascetic way),” he argued.

The time for sanyas wasn’t when one was standing in the battlefield, but before the war started. At that time such things did not occur to anyone, except Krishna. Now, when one was on the battlefield, it was time for the fight.

You cannot handle the present moment with the made-up ideas of your wishful thinking. Just take care of this moment the way it presents itself.

The Chinese have shown up at Modi’s door with aggression. They will be given back something to remember. The time for peace and agreements was when Xi Jinping was welcomed in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. There he was planning war. Now no talk of peace has any meaning.

This moment is different. It should and will get treated differently. Very very differently.


Chinese aggression and countering it

Xi Jinping has a death wish for his Presidency. Otherwise, why would he allow his Army to keep trying their luck against India and keep getting thrashed? After Galwan (and the recent tombstone pictures) and Pangong losing situations, they have now again tried in another area - Chumar!

“In a significant development, Indian security forces today foiled an attempt by the Chinese Army to transgress into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control in the general area of Chumar,” news agency ANI quoted sources as saying. The Chinese army reportedly sent around 7 to 8 heavy vehicles towards the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control from their Chepuzi camp. “In reaction, the Indian security forces also made precautionary deployments to prevent any intrusion,” the report stated. (Source)

When the Chinese saw the Indian vehicles, they turned back.

Third snub in a row.

why is China so aggressive right now?

So, the strange question is why is China being aggressive all of a sudden and for so long?  Despite getting a bloody nose on two occasions?

Former Indian Ambassador in Vienna for Austria and Slovenia, TP Sreenivasan thinks that China has a pattern.

Even though the actions are by the lowest level, the agreement is coming from the top.  And the leadership in China had sensed an opportunity post-COVID.  They thought that the US will not come to help India when China attacked.  Even in 1962, feels Mr. Sreenivasan, India was attacked by China when the US was busy with the Cuban crisis.

“The day when the Cuban crisis ended, China stopped the war against India and had withdrawn their troops because it is connected with the possibility of US help coming. Now they know that during this COVID -19 crisis there will be no US help,” said the former diplomat. (Source)

He is right in that the opportunity at the time of COVID with the US and most of Europe being preoccupied, seems ideal to bring India on the mat.

The only variable?  India.  And its capabilities.  It seems the Chinese forgot to factor that in.  And more importantly, leadership.  The leader of India now doesn't blink.  You provoke him and between him and the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval - they will find a way to get back.

Why is QUAD important for India to contain China?

After the Galwan crisis, India had deployed its frontline warships in the South China Sea.

Government sources said: “Soon after the Galwan clash broke out in which 20 of our soldiers were killed, the Indian Navy deployed one of its frontline warships to the South China Sea where the People’s Liberation Army’s Navy objects to the presence of any other force claiming the majority of the waters as part of its territory.” (Source)

So, the action wasn’t just on one front - i.e.; Galwan. But on many fronts to ensure that China does not take things lightly.

After Galwan, India has been very active with the QUAD - US, Australia, Japan, and India - group. Why?

Because between India, Australia, the US (which has warships in the Indo-Pacific region), and Japan; the QUAD could effectively choke China up any time they want.

If simple India and Australia decide to block Chinese vessels up, the route to the West via the Indian Ocean is gone for China.

On June 4, 2020; India and Australian Prime Ministers (Narendra Modi and Scott Morrison had a virtual summit. Interestingly the “Joint Declaration” also touched upon this area.

The joint declaration states that: “Both countries share a view that many of the future challenges are likely to occur in, and emanate from, the maritime domain.” The agreement will allow Indian and Australian military ships and aircraft to refuel and access maintenance facilities at each other’s bases.

This is obviously significant.

Meanwhile, “Exercise Malabar”, or the Malabar Naval Games happen annually since 1992 between India and the US. Japan became a permanent member of these exercises in 2015. Australia has participated in it just once in 2007. China was so provoked by the presence of Australia in these exercises that it had issued a demarche to India.

Now of course things are different.

Australia is now participating in the Malabar Exercises in 2020.

Now the discussion is to make Australia a “permanent member” of the Malabar Exercises, like the US and Japan. (Source)

India’s actions have emboldened others

In an absolutely unprecedented situation, the German Foreign Minister simply humiliated the Chinese counterpart in a joint live press conference.

All the hot button topics to basically snub the Chinese on the nose were raised - Hong Kong, Uighur, and Taiwan.

Who could have thought of such a diplomatic snub just a few months back?

nota bene

Tests cross a million: Daily tests to detect Covid-19 have crossed a million mark for the third time on Monday. A record was also set of sorts when 70,000 new cases have been added (Source)

Hebdo makes Mohammad again: French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the target of a massacre by Islamist gunmen in 2015, said Tuesday it was republishing hugely controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to mark this week's start of the trial of alleged accomplices to the attack. The cover of the new issue has a dozen cartoons mocking the prophet of Islam, reproducing images that sparked protests when they were first published and a debate about the limits of freedom of speech. (Source)

Bee venom for Breast Cancer: Compounds found inside honeybee venom can help to tackle aggressive forms of breast cancer without putting healthy cells at risk, a clinical study discovered. Experts from the University of Western Australia used venom from 312 bees found in Perth, Western Australia, Ireland, and England as part of the research. The team tested the effects of venom on different types of breast cancers that have limited treatment - they found it rapidly destroyed tumors and cancerous cells. (Source)

Stonehenge a movie theater?: Researchers in the UK used a scale model to study the acoustic qualities of the mysterious monument built some 4,000 years ago when all 157 stones were intact. To approximate the original location and shape of the stones, laser-scanned data of Stonehenge's modern-day configuration was combined with archaeological evidence of its original layout - and the team found it was more like a movie theater than an open-air space. (Source)

why Indian-Americans should vote for Trump

One thing is for sure - Obama was very weak in foreign policy. Abhijit Iyer is one of the sharpest analysts we have on geopolitics, specifically when it comes to China. He discusses how Obama was constantly favoring China all through, even at the expense of the American relationship with Japan.

And what do you think the Chinese did? They humiliated him because he was presenting the US as a weak kid in front of China. The Chinese respect power and strength. If you do not challenge them then they are wont to eat you up.

Around the end of his Presidency, when Obama went to China for the G20 summit in September 2016, he was not even provided a ladder to get off. He had to come out from the “ass of the plane”!

China’s leaders have been accused of delivering a calculated diplomatic snub to Barack Obama after the US president was not provided with a staircase to leave his plane during his chaotic arrival in Hangzhou before the start of the G20. Chinese authorities have rolled out the red carpet for leaders including India’s prime minister, Narendra Modithe Russian president, Vladimir Putinthe South Korean president, Park Geun-hyeBrazil’s president, Michel Temer, and the British prime minister, Theresa May, who touched down on Sunday morning. (Source)

What Trump did was reverse this whole relationship.

He snubbed China. And made it into a villain. And, interestingly, Trump backed India very strongly during the Galwan crisis.

Here Abhijit shares some interesting reasons why Indian-Americans should go ahead and vote for Trump.

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