April 09, 2008

It's the analysis

An "open letter" to film star Aamir Khan is titled "The Blood-Stained Beijing Olympics". It's by a man called B Raman, a retired Additional Secretary (retd) to the Government of India, and a well-known "strategic analyst."

Why Aamir Khan? Well, in a few days, the Olympic torch will come through India on its way to Beijing for the Olympics. Khan is one of various well-known people who are supposed to carry it on its relay through India. He says he has received many requests "not to participate" in the torch relay, as a gesture of support to the Tibetan struggle. But he says he has thought about it and decided to participate nevertheless. The Olympics, he says, "do not belong to China."

Undoubtedly, you have your opinions on Khan's decision. Me, for example, I think he should not carry the torch. I think what China has done in and to Tibet, for half a century now, is an outrage.

B Raman also thinks Aamir Khan should not carry the torch. He lists all manner of reasons, some involving Pakistan, some involving Chief Ministers, one involving the ICRC. He asserts that Khan is part of the torch relay because Khan is a "widely-respected Muslim personality". He works in disapproving mentions of "leftists" and "communists." He says that we Indians "handle our problems in the minority areas ... like civilized, democratic people"; in contrast, "the Chinese handle them like Hitler and Stalin used to do."

"By lending your name and prestige to the Torch run," says Raman to Khan, "you are unwittingly helping the Chinese to cover up the blood stains."

All of which is fine. Raman is entitled to his opinions.

But he also writes: "I have myself been a strong supporter of the Olympics being held in Beijing. I wrote even after the recent outbreak of the revolt in Tibet that we should not support the moves for a boycott of the Bejing Games."

So let me get this straight: Raman doesn't want Khan to run with the Olympic Torch because that would help the Chinese "to cover up the blood stains." But at the same time, in the same breath, he does want the Olympics to go ahead; in fact, he is "a strong supporter" of them; in fact, he doesn't want to "support the moves for a boycott" of the Games.

No, I can't get it straight. If the Olympics Torch relay is a move by the Chinese "to cover up the blood stains", why are the Olympics themselves not a similar move "to cover up the blood stains"? Why, by supporting the games, is Raman himself not "helping the Chinese to cover up the blood stains"?

Oh yes. I forgot. Raman does think "we should not help China in giving a great shine to the Games."

So let me get this straight. Olympics Torch relay by Aamir Khan: no. Olympics themselves: yes. Shine to the Games, whatever that might mean: no.

This is, evidently, what's called "strategic analysis." This is the analysis that a popular Indian blog aggregator refers to as "well-argued." Of course.


anantha said...

Reminds me of a one liner that I am so fond of repeating time and again directed at said DP contributor. However, considering the number of times I have had to repeat it, I shall not succumb to temptation this one time.

Moving on, I should mention that I am all for the Olympics, regardless of who hosts it. Because (from the perspective of a bystander), I hold the opinion that boycotting the games as a nation, or calling for a boycott of the games themselves counts as disservice to the hundreds of sports-persons who probably get one shot at glory. However if they themselves decide to pass that chance, then more power to them. In short, I think its a personal choice for each sports-person and no one has the right to demand that they make a choice one way or the other.

I'd love to hear what your (as someone who plays/played sports) perspective on this.

MinCat said...

you now are first i was very much for the boycott thing, but now i come to think of it amir khan has a point, the olympics do not belong to the chinese. they belong to everyone and after we decided to let china host them theres not much we can do. using them to punish/reprimand china is very ineffective because it will only serve to offend china and worsen relations. if the olympics are about coming together it wld be far more useful for heads of state or representatives to speak out in offical speeches against the fiasco in tibet. of course if the "first" world is really interested in addressing the problem or putting pressure on china there are MANY more FAR more effective ways to do it, such as economic sanctions, which are traditionally supposed to the ahem UN response to human rights abuse. However THAT wld mean trouble for the sanctioning countries themselves, since they now heavily depend on chian for cheap labour and manufacturing. Also, with the welath fund and the treasury bonds china kinda has em all by the goolies!

i completely agree with you anantha about it being the personal choice of the sportsperson. good for bhutia i say, but bad milkha singh doesnt follow from that.

MinCat said...

ah typos...i thought i got them! that comment beings, you know, at first.

Anonymous said...

I did blink a bit at 21 and 22 on Raman's post, but put things together. Raman probably wants the games to go ahead but have China embarrassed to the maximum possible extent. Such embarrassment is somehow in India's national interest.

More generally, I think Tibetans during the run-up and immediate time-frame of the Games, will have a lot of newly minted opportunistic friends. They wont be around 3 months from now. Tibetans should be wary of doing anything that puts themselves at risk on the surge of this false support.

Re. strategic analysis itself, I found his arguments sound- ie. China using prominent Muslim and Buddhist personalities. Where he errs is in expecting these personalities to be aware of these plays and see it on these lines.

I dont think you have sufficiently attacked the "analysis" part with your highlighting points 21 & 22.


Anonymous said...

It is sad to see you take cheap shots. I agree that the contradiction is true as pointed by you. But i think your real problem with the article is on his attitude towards communists, leftists. I think you should be open about it.
I find that his post as such was rather agreeable, and he has not told why he supports the olympics although.
Again, I feel very sad when i see you take these cheap shots.
Regs, Rahul

Anonymous said...

It is surprising that no one's mentioning Coca Cola in all this!

Sidhusaaheb said...

Kudos and feathers to Mr. Raman, the blog-aggregator (despite the fact that they have included several of my posts, too, off and on) and the 'cheap-shots' commentator! :D

BTW, until very recently, Kiran Bedi was also supposed to carry the torch. Wonder why no one wrote such a letter to her, especially one addressing her as 'a prominent Hindu personality'? Coming to think of it, one can still be written to Sachin Tendulkar, since he is still slated to participate, addressing him as 'a prominent Hindu personality' and explaining how China plans to 'use prominent Hindu personalities'... :D

Communalism, obviously, courses through the veins of the letter writer and his ilk, like blood.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dilip,

Please read 21 and 22 in whole. B. Raman says that he thinks boycotting the Olympics would hurt the pride of the Chinese people and might play indirectly into the hands of their leaders. Personalities not participating in the relay conveys the appropriate message. The fact is that China is too powerful, too big, and too important for countries to risk confrontation with it. However, democracies can utilize the civil society to pressurize China to improve its human rights records.

Aamir Khan is well within his rights to participate in the rally. However, when he places India and China in the same basket, he is committing the same mistake as defenders of Hitler; all violence is not the same.

Dear Anantha,

Why don't you ask Rajni Saar to link on DP?


If memory serves me right, you have only been linked on DP because you have the habit of spamming our in boxes with links to practically every post you right. If you object to being linked, please refrain from that in the future.

Anil P said...

Imagine if we could carve out an independent space geographically, over which no country had sovereignty, so that we may host all neutral events, e.g. Olympics. Maybe even the UNO.

Anonymous said...

Arre Confused bhai
Why are you justifying and reasoning so much with Dilip. Is the reason for Dilip's shots against Raman not clear? Ever since Raman endorsed a book that unmasked many NGO's - who finance Dilip (AID, Asha etc), he has been at the receiving end of Dilip. Over and above Modi released this book. Is this not reason enough for Raman to be dragged and hounded for every column he writes.
Confused - you should have kknown by now how Dilip has mentioned you in the same vein with all net abusers - along with the HT episode.
So relax folks - after all Dilip has to sing for his supper. Would he not hound anybody who exposes his financers?

Anonymous said...

Just came to know. Aamir is carrying it for Coke as per his contract.

Well - Why did he not say so? Why this dissing of his own country and making it equal to other rogue states. The above title says it all.
Is this not similar to what a typist usually does? Familiar tactics

Anonymous said...

Cheap shots ...? But you say that: "I agree that the contradiction is true as pointed out by you."

Than what is your problem? I did not find anything else in dcubed post but pointing out this contradiction, which undermines Raman's whole argument.


Dilip D'Souza said...

Please read 21 and 22 in whole.

I did, which is why I wrote what I did. But thank you for the suggestion anyway. I read them again and I would still write what I did.

The fact is that China is too powerful, too big, and too important for countries to risk confrontation with it.

Such were the thoughts that prompted Neville Chamberlain to return home in 1939, waving a piece of paper and saying "Peace in our time!" Luckily, there were others then who had a little more fibre.

when he places India and China in the same basket, he is committing the same mistake as defenders of Hitler; all violence is not the same.


Man gets lynched in Jasper. Man gets "necklaced" in Soweto. Man gets burned alive in Godhra. Man gets hacked to pieces in Kigali. Man gets shot dead in Lhasa. Man gets blown up in London. Man gets beheaded in Baghdad.

Let's go tell all these men, "All violence is not the same." Let's go tell them, "Hey you! Don't commit the same mistake as defenders of Hitler!"

Oh I forgot, we can't tell them. They're all dead.

Deserves a post by itself. Let me see if I can do it.

Mention of spamming inboxes and "Rajni Saar" and one-liners: may I ask all concerned to keep these to your own blogs/exchanges? Your private battles have zero to do with the subject at hand.

I dont think you have sufficiently attacked the "analysis" part with your highlighting points 21 & 22.

I'm not interested in "sufficiently attacking" anything. I'm interested in drawing your attention to an "analysis" that says: "Aamir Khan should not carry the Olympic Torch because he will help cover up blood stains, but the Olympics must go on, but there should be no shine to them."

Anonymous said...

Dear Jai
My comment was to Dilip, not to you.

I commented that i agree with that Dilip writes, and that it is probably true. I personally Dilip's posts appreciate very much. But this one lacks any conviction or substance. Dilip has agreed with him throughout the post, written a single point of disagreement and then mentioned it sarcastically as "well agrued". It is a take on B Raman's article because it is B raman and because he has written "ill" about communists.

This turd of a post is by a man called Dilip, who was once a wonderful writer on rediff and otherwise. The great man has since ended his fun with the death of sensible and good writing and is now writing quite insincerely. He will be missed.

ps: dramatics apart, sincerely, please stop these cheap takes, and write some good articles

Anonymous said...

Kolkata commies banned rallies by Tibetans:


And that not long after they have driven Taslima out of India altogether.

And that not long after they killed, with ample assistance from the police, people resisting them at Nandigram.

Interesting fact is, commies, when they are in that "I am the victim" mode, which happens every second day, make it a point to chant that Niemuller bromide: "They first came for the Jews", etc. In Culcutta, they went after one group after another, one individual after another, making sure nobody is left to speak up for anybody else, as Indian Express notes in this editorial:


I have no doubt in my mind that if communists should hold absolute power in India, like they do in other communist countries, they will send Tibetans in India to gas chambers to please the Beijing HQ. And that's for starters.

That might sound a bit like exaggeration of what they will do, but consider both historical precedent as well as the prevailing situation. The historical precedent is that commies did kill millions of people. And if successfully shutting up all dissent they do not tolerate is what they can achieve under a democratic set-up, what will stop them from becoming inhuman Stalin-like if they hold autocratic power?

Comrade D'Souza believes that the most important thing he needs to blog about at this point in time is NOT suppression of Tibetan dissent by communists not only in Tibet but in India as well, but the alleged inconsistency in a letter that Raman wrote to a film star.

Surprised, anyone?

Anonymous said...

Dear Jai
I want to take back my words. Why should this turd of a post be directed only at Dilip? You can comment on it too.

This man writes only turds now. Turds, turds, turds. I want to admit that I lied in my last post and tried to be objective. Really this fellow's rwriting always annoyed me, I just thought it would make my last post better if I lied about that.


Anonymous said...

Comrade D'Souza would like us to believe that he is oh so objective. Ahhh! Clap clap, Comrade!

He is actually completely biased for Muslims and commies. Indian is right (above) - but he should have said it about commies too. Mozzies and Commies - please you Raman and Modi and Atanu and so many other champions, please help us get rid of these menaces ASAP.

anantha said...

Point taken, Dilip. I admit my first line was not in good taste.

Anyways, My question still stands unanswered, though.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Anantha, you're right, I forgot to answer your question. I love the idea of the Olympics. I do agree with your idea of a personal choice; and that the Games are often the only chance for many sportsmen. Why should countries and their political leaders wanting to score political points be allowed to take away that chance?

Yet given how big and prestigious the Olympics are, I despair of there ever coming a time when countries will overlook the temptation to use them as political showcases. I wonder if it's not possible to find some other worldwide showcase for every individual sport.

Anonymous said...


I just saw your post and didn't read the chain of comments, so I ask you and the previous commenters to forgive me if I'm repeating a point.

Mr Raman draws a distinction between how the Indian government must respond and how Indian citizens must respond.

There is no morality in international relations: hence, governments have to do what is in their national interest. It is not in India's interests to antagonise China, a more powerful neighbouring state.

Does that mean that citizens should do so too? Raman argues---and I've made this point too--that citizens of democracies should be free to do what they like. Protest against China and for Tibet, or protest against the West, or indeed, protest in support of the Communist Party. In other words, citizens should be act according to their conscience. In this case, he advocates that citizens should protest against China's treatment of Tibetans.

Now, those who disagree that foreign policy ought not to be amoral will disagree with this. That's fine. But the point I'm making is Raman's "strategic analysis" is consistent with a Realist interpretation of international relations.

Alaphia Zoyab said...

The argument is certainly confused and I think Amir Khan's delicate reasoning could appear to be fence-sitting. But couldn't we extend that to anyone who trades with China? Why is it okay to buy cheap Chinese products but not go for their Olympics? Also, the Indian government is frankly in no position to lecture the Chinese about their human rights record. (Nithari, Godhra and several cases around the country....) What we do differently in India is send the oppressed to polling booths every five years. If we are satisfied with interpreting the virtues of democracy with so little then fine... our system works. But to me it appears that the Indian government is in a glass house and does not have the moral authority to lecture anyone else. (This isn't to justify the methods of Stalin and Mao.)