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Nepal, the next Tibet
February 08, 2005
Have you noticed how, in the maps used by various news agencies covering the recent Nepal story, that nation's neighbours are India, Bhutan, and China? The fact that it is not China, but Tibet, that is next to Nepal has been erased from history. The brutal colonial conquest of Tibet is now a fait accompli, and nobody cries any more for the Tibetans. They are a vanished civilisation thrown into the garbage bin of history.
Exactly the same thing is likely to happen to Nepal in the near future, as a Chinese-engineered coup will overthrow the monarchy, and the 'only Hindu kingdom in the world' will be formally colonised by Han China. It was to set the stage for this that the previous monarch, King Birendra, and his family were brutally massacred in 2001. At the time, I wrote in a column that the assassination was part of a Sino-Islamist plot directed at, who else, India.
The Maoist pattern in Nepal has been to create a parallel administration and ensure that the government's writ doesn't run in district after district. This is a blueprint for India, too, for Sun Tzu-schooled Chinese tacticians: a classic 'fifth column'. Naxalites in India are active in 150 districts, a three-fold increase in just one year, no doubt encouraged by the idea that Marxist-Congress axis will be friendly to them. Furthermore, at least in the case of Andhra Pradesh, the Congress government has virtually caved in to the Naxalites.
Nepal: The Chinese squeeze
Clearly, the Naxalites are in cahoots with the Nepali Maoists, and this is a grave security threat. Even the brashly Old Left Outlook magazine was moved to talk about the fact that more or less the entire eastern seaboard of India is now vulnerable: extremists may soon control the coast. Now add to this the fact that the Chinese have been intruding further and further into the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, setting up listening posts and spying on Indian military installations.
Does a pattern emerge? Surely, it does. Then there is the Pakistani port of Gwadar being built by China. Chinese use of Myanmar's Cocos Islands as a base, and the rumoured plans to build ports on the Myanmarese coast. All this is the 'unfinished business of 1962': the Chinese project to destroy India. Which a large number of Indians are quite happy to co-operate in. I visualise them waiting with marigolds to garland Chinese invaders; of course, this would be just moments before they are lined up and shot contemptuously as traitors by the esteemed visitors.
And all this takes on new momentum when the Nehru dynasty is in power, as the Chinese know they can depend on the Nehruvian Stalinists to fiddle, as it were, when Rome burns. This is not conjecture, this is exactly what happened with Tibet too, as laid out in exhaustive detail in Claude Arpi's well-researched Born in Sin: The Panchsheel Agreement. The Indian powers-that-be simply did not comprehend then what was going on, lost in the miasma of Hindi-Chini-bhai-bhai.
I'm afraid history is repeating itself. Once again, China has a clear plan: to remove the next buffer state. It may be remembered that China considers Bhutan, Nepal and Sikkim, as well as Arunachal Pradesh and parts of Uttar Pradesh as their rightful due, because at some distant point in the past, Tibetans had some religious tutelary rights in these areas. Han Chinese are into land-grab.
Says historian R C Majumdar, as quoted by Arpi: 'There is, however, one aspect of Chinese culture that is little known outside the circle of professional historians. It is characteristic of China that if a region once acknowledged her nominal suzerainty even for a short period, she would regard it as part of her empire for ever and would automatically revive her claim over it even after a thousand years whenever there was a chance of enforcing it.'
Thus we can expect Nepal to disappear into China's maw unless India takes action. There is speculation that King Gyanendra of Nepal and his ne'er-do-well son Paras have been getting chummy with the Chinese: Paras made a couple of recent trips to Hong Kong, for instance. But all this is no reason for India to snippily put on airs about 'democracy' and 'constitution'. India has to work with Gyanendra and try to contain the Maoist menace lest it, and its second-most important leader Baburam Bhattarai, a JNU graduate (where else?) decide to seek fresh pastures in India once they have successfully taken control of Nepal.
Manmohan Singh has been making certain noises that have been taken to mean he was unwilling to go to the SAARC summit because he didn't want to break bread with Gyanendra. This is the height of absurdity. India ostracised the ruling junta in Myanmar, preferring Aung San Su Kyi, while the Chinese cosied up to the generals. India got nothing, the Chinese got the harbours. In Nepal's case too, best to go with expediency and wield both carrot and stick: Gyanendra knows an Indian blockade would hurt; and Indian military and other help can help him contain the Maoists.
Alas, I have no faith that reason will prevail. India will muff this chance too: after all, the motley crew in power doesn't give one any sense of confidence. They happily beat up on poor defenseless Hindus, but halting wild-eyed, fundamentalist Marxists is a different kettle of fish altogether.
Besides, there is a series of coincidences that makes me cringe. I once wrote about the connections between Kerala and Tibet in The Buddhist Connection and later I was flabbergasted to realise that India's disastrous Tibet policy under Jawaharlal Nehru was the handiwork of two Keralites: K N Panikkar and V K Krishna Menon, while another Keralite, M O Mathai, was Nehru's private secretary.
Well, guess what: today there is another bunch of Keralites wielding significant power: National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, the PM's Principal Secretary T K A Nair, and now RAW chief Hormis Tharakan; the private secretary to the Nehru dynasty scion these days is yet another Keralite, Vincent George.
This is not a good portent for poor Nepal.