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How Readers responded to Rajeev Srinivasan's recent columns

Date sent: Wed, 04 Mar 1998 00:42:06 +0530
From: Rajiv Wirasinha <>
Subject: Cheers and fears from Sri Lanka

As a Sri Lankan, Mr Srinivasan's article made a lot of sense. It never ceases to surprise me how much our two countries have in common. We too have been ruled by tired old ideas. Here, too, it is fashionable and progressive to hate Sri Lanka. To hate Buddhism. To hate Hinduism. To hate the Sinhala language. To hate the Tamil language. To hate our traditions. To condemn everything that we can call our own as primitive and reactionary. A sterile secularism, a blank identity, an empty culture is the progressive ideal. And those who generally oppose this vision are even worse -- xenophobic Neanderthals, unreconstructed racists. Let me not bore you further with Sri Lanka; much of what is true for India is true for Sri Lanka. Cheers to Mr Srinivasan.

Of course, Sri Lanka can never hope to be a power on the world stage as India can. I think, on the whole, Sri Lankans would welcome a robust and confident India that can hold her own with East Asia, Europe, the US, etc. However, if India seeks to assume the stature she deserves by demonstrating high-handed hegemonic control over the other countries of the region, then there's trouble brewing. Is it me, or does Mr Srinivasan seem to suggest such a course of action in his article?

In the late '80s, India was feuding in varying degrees with Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It can hardly be called a glorious time for India. Might I respectfully suggest to Mr Srinivasan that being recognised as an equal to China or the United States in the eyes of The Economist magazine (or whoever) should not be India's priority. This is some sort of unbecoming complex, a peculiar immaturity that I have observed in many Indians. When India overcomes her inhibiting social structures, when India dismantles her stifling administrative mechanisms, when India can offer the hope of a decent living to all her multitudes -- that's when India's day will come. The India of power, influence and esteem that Mr Srinivasan obviously yearns for will come naturally, effortlessly, by way of a cultural and economic renaissance.

My vision for India and the region is this. First, India recognises what she is -- Hindustan. What holds India together is not secularism, not the army, not the bureaucracy. It is the shared Indic values and that's a strong bond indeed. Thus, India will hold when power moves away from the centre, India will hold as the states begin to flex their freedom, India will hold even as her many ethnicities assert their identities. India will hold and Indians will begin to realise their true potential. So, a looser Union in many ways, but a tighter one as well. One that may, someday, be attractive enough for Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, the Maldives, Bangladesh, even Pakistan, to want to join in some form or another. Imagine the possibilities of such a Union! Farfetched? On the contrary, I feel it is almost inevitable. Could we have imagined a (voluntary) European Union at the turn of the century?

Forgive me if I've strayed from the point. I think Mr Srinivasan has prepared an excellent manifesto for a new India. It does have a few rough edges, which might be particularly rough on the neighbours. But then I'm of the view that whatever is good for India will, in the long run, be good for us in Sri Lanka as well.

Rajiv Wirasinha
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Date sent: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 10:32:47 -0700
From: "Anjali Fields" <>
Subject: China

Rajeev has articulated a complex situation beautifully. The US state department and White House have a lot to learn from the 'Hindi-Chini bhai bhai (Indians and Chinese are brothers)' slogan of the 1950s. It led to the Chinese attack on India when India least expected it. Now there is talk of a 'US-China partnership', 'US-China strategic relationship', etc, etc. How dumb can one really be? It is clear now that the real superpower today is neither China nor the US, whose State Department was "thankful" to China for heading the P-5 meeting condemning the atomic tests in the Indian subcontinent. Well, on whose head in the monkey sitting? China has bought the White House, the business lobby and the defence lobby in US.

Date sent: Tue, 07 Jul 1998 20:06:13 PDT
Subject: Rajeev Srinivasan's article on Ammooma

Really thought I had got over my homesickness until I read this article. Reminded me of my childhood days visiting my grandma, who was just like Ammooma, in north Malabar and all the memories came back in a flash. "Relationships are a very important thing". We don't realise it until we go far away from them.

GOOD WORK, writing a MEMORARIUM for your AMMOOMA and making others REMEMBER theirs.

Can you write an article about Indian women abroad? I've never found an interesting article about what women are really facing when they leave their country.


Date sent: Fri, 26 Jun 1998 11:21:10 -0700
From: Mahesh Pondicherry <>
Subject: Rajeev Srinivasan

I am an avid reader of Mr Rajeev Srinivasan's articles on the web. However, I am disappointed by his last two articles Danger from China and How to sell India. In the first, his prediction about the profound geo-political events to come is, at best, mere speculation. In the second article, Mr Srinivasan is tiringly repetitive in his presentation.

I shall look forward to reading his future articles, which I hope will be more enjoyable, as it has been in the past.

M C Pondicherry

Date sent: Fri, 19 Jun 1998 00:11:36 -0700
From: "Vinay Deshmukh" <>
Subject: Rajeev Srinivasan's article...

Terrific !

I always wanted somebody to write this article. It is a wonderful analysis of China's hegemonistic ambitions, barbarian past and a proven record of back stabbing.


Date sent: Thu, 25 Jun 1998 23:22:42 EDT
From: <>
Subject: How to sell India

You have made a wonderful analysis of the weakness of the Indian government in sending the wrong people to market India in the West. Americans love one-liners. Ronald Reagan was a big hit among Americans because of his one-liners. This letter should be read by the PMO in India and by Parliament. Good job. Keep it up.

Mukund Akkoor

Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 12:08:18 -0400
From: Raj Kaza <>
Subject: Rajeev

This article clearly whips up passions, is good to read but offers little in terms of any workable solutions or any suggestion as to how India needs to counter this kind of a situation. All I can say is, it is easy to say what the problem is but what should we do to get on top of this situation politically? More importantly, what do we need to do as a society to counter the tricks of the Chinese? I like the article but I think we need to go a step beyond this and figure out what we need to do. Leaving it to the politicians is not going to work.

Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 09:46:56 -0500 (EST)
From: Pranshu Behari Saxena <>
Subject: Rajeev Srinivasan's column on the Chinese threat

I would tend to agree with your analysis. But I feel the Chinese might move in earlier, depending on the situation after Yeltsin. A right wing government in power at Moscow may make it easier for the Chinese to take over. By the time the dust settles on Yeltsin's successor, the Chinese would have increased their land mass. We are relatively safe for now, as you pointed out. The Chinese understand a show of arms and our nuclear tests were exactly that.

A Chinese legend points out that when one of their kings fought a rebel warlord, he ordered a battalion of his troops to cut off their own heads to sow fear in the enemy at the start of the battle. This is what scares me -- the Chinese warlords of the 1990s might not think twice about sacrificing 100 million of their citizens' lives if it will kill as many Indians and force the rest to surrender.

Pranshu B Saxena

Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 06:39:23 -0600
From: "G. N. Reddy" <>
Subject: Rajiv Srinivasan's column

Srinivasan has clearly missed the point. This tendency to take a high moral ground in global politics is a sign of weakness and insecurity. Some of the world's leaders clever enough to detect hypocrisy, but China has benefited from its manouverability and diplomacy. One sees, sadly though, that truth is not subject of politics, but concentrating on the needs of one's country is. Even now, India and her politicians are clearly missing the vision.

G N Reddy

Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 12:53:09 +0200
From: (Sharma, Praveen)
Subject: Rajeev Srinivasan column

Highly informative and correct! Good work!


Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 07:53:54 PDT
From: "Aa Sagokia" <>
Subject: Rajeev's latest column about China-America axis

As always, Rajeev, your viewpoint is interesting and makes sense.

I would also like to point out that part of the reason why the Chinese get good press in America (besides the descendants of Sam Walton, (possibly) Thomas Watson and who-have-you relying on them for cheap labour) is that there exists a big Chinese-American population that has been living here since at least 100 years (They came in as labourers for the railway being constructed from the west to east). Since the American view of world-politics is : Our enemy's friend is our enemy, these guys started getting sympathy during World War II and they began to look like the leading intellectuals/leaders/suzerains/people to be coddled and what-have-you with respect to Asia (This is also the time that tons of money was invested in universities for Chinese studies, while funds were allotted for Indian studies only if there was money left over after paying the professors, secretaries, janitors and departmental parties). The Indian community has established roots in this country only much later, from the '60s and therefore cannot match up, resourcewise, to the Chinese community here.

I think the longer contact between China and America has also made the Chinese more *familiar* and *user-friendly* in the eyes of most of the gorey-log. There are very few towns which do not have Chinese restaurants and all Americans know about Chinese food. On the other hand, Indian food (not to speak of Indian culture) is unknown in this country and most Americans cannot relate to India.

I realise this business of associating gastronomy with politics is funny, but then it must be remembered that England, a country that has Indian restaurants in most towns (and is consequently more familiar with Indian culture) is more India-friendly than the US (verifiable through the kinds of sanctions that were clamped on India recently). It would be profitable for the Government of India to launch more Festivals of India (a la the mid 80s) to try to familiarise India in the US and win over people to the desi point of view...


Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 06:25:44 -0400
From: Abbie <>
Subject: Danger from China

As usual, this is an excellent article. In a recent book titled The Coming War With China, Russ Munro (a renowned China scholar) expresses the same kind of view but from the point of view of even a bigger dominator, the West. I feel the usefulness of this article will be multiplied manifold by publishing it in The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, the Times Herald published from Europe and the Guardian. I will be glad to attempt to have it reprinted if Rajeev gives me permission to do so.

Shantanu Ghose

Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 02:44:06 -0500
From: Narayanan Ramakrishnan <>
Subject: About: The danger from China...

This article is quite well written as have been Rajeev's articles relating to India's nuclear tests. An important aspect in China assuming a belligerent and 'don't-care' attitude against the rest of the world stems from its appeasement by the US which, driven by its myopic corporate compulsions, has been going to every extent to pander to its newfound Communist ally! One has only to stretch his/her imagination a bit to conclude that this policy of the US would one day prove a problem to their own economic and security interests. It would be in the interest of the world in general, and the western powers in particular, if they realised the hegemonistic plans that China has been cherishing for a long time, and which would soon turn to reality if this pandering by the US and its allies continues.

Narayanan, R
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Date sent: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 17:17:56 -0700
From: Pavan Batchu <>
Subject: Danger from China by Rajeev Srinivasan

Some of the points raised by Rajeev are interesting, such as China being the monkey in the Panchatantra tale. However, his view seems to be a little extreme -- probably improbable, especially the one about China's expansion in the future. He also contradicts himself -- he says China will take Siberia from the impoverished Russians -- and in the same breath says India will be safe with its nukes. Has he forgotten that Russia with its nukes can turn China into dust umpteen times over?

But it has been interesting to note that, even though everyone has been talking about China's encircle-India policy -- China, Pak, and Burma, nobody has talked about encircling China (Rajeev has kicked it off by urging India to support Taiwan). I would go a step ahead by suggesting an alliance with Vietnam, Taiwan and Russia.

Lastly, the Commies in China will soon see doomsday and democracy will usher in the gentler side of our northern neighbour.


Date sent: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 17:46:23 -0700
From: Srikanth <>
Subject: The Danger from China

Once again, a great article by Rajeev Srinivasan. I am sending this page to all my friends.

Srikanth Ranganathan

Date sent: Mon, 15 Jun 1998 20:51:58 -0400
Subject: Rajeev Srinivasan

A realistic column... Thanks for the honesty.

Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 10:55:40 +0800
From: vigyani <>
Subject: Rajeev on China

Very true! There is a saying that there is nothing straight about the Chinese except their hair. The US believes it is not affected by China, and it finds itself helpless to contain that country so they have joined hands. But reality is going to be different.

Keep it up, Rajeev.


Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 09:56:04 +0530
From: Anand Saraf <>
Subject: Rajeev's article on China

Excellent article. I think he articulates and puts forth very clearly something that a lot of Indians are beginning to feel about China. Just hope that more people in the MEA read these articles.


Date sent: Tue, 16 Jun 1998 10:46:04 +0530
From: Debashis Goswami <>
Subject: Chinese expansion

This article perpetuates myth and imaginary predictions about China and is aimed at creating an imaginary 'enemy' for our country. It is a fact that, if India wanted, China would have sold us the same nuclear technology they sold to Pakistan. There is absolutely no historical claim that China can make on India. India was never a part of their territory, even in its golden days. It is foolish to compare India's case with that of Tibet/Taiwan. We can keep on propagating myths like because Chenghis Khan once occupied most of the world, the Mongolians are going to do the same in the near future. Beware of the Greeks because of Alexander !!!

Debashis Goswami

Date sent: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 11:28:08 -0500
Subject: China threat

I believe Rajeev Srinivasan may be touching the tip of the Asian/South East Asian iceberg with his article... Considering the recent political developments in Australia (Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party victories) and the situation in Indonesia, among others which I am sure you are more familiar with, the situation seems reminiscent of the pre-World War II period. I'd be interested in your take on the situation.

Charlie Daugherty

Date sent: Wed, 17 Jun 1998 13:09:31 -0700
From: Mastech <>
Subject: The Danger from China

Excellent article. Very informative and to the point. Congratulations, Rajeev!!!

P Sankarakailasam

Date sent: Thu, 18 Jun 1998 14:59:34 -0400
From: Sumanta N Dutta <>
Subject: The Danger from China

This is an excellent article. Thank you, Rajeev, for such an informative article. A must-read by those nuts in India who are against India's recent nuclear tests on frivolous grounds.

The Chinese have been aggressors since a long time. We must never forget the Chinese attack on India, despite the 'Hindi-Chini bhai bhai.' When a country's interest is involved, this type of hollow slogan is totally uncalled for. India needs to be prepared for any and every eventuality.

The recent nuclear tests and India's overt intention to build a nuclear arsenal will send a clear signal to the Chinese. We should be ready to face economic hardship for the time being, to avoid any future attack. Indian leaders should take immediate measures to build a strong defence, both conventional and nuclear.

Sumanta N Dutta