Should India worry about the Dragon in Nepal?
by Vijaya Rajiva on 05 Oct 2012 72 Comments

Bharat has to contend with two major enemies – the Christian-imperialist-West axis; Jihadi terrorism; and an inimical entity, China, whose great power ambitions pose a threat to her security. All three forces are asuric, and are not listed in any special order of priority. As a Hindutva-vadin, the present writer is concerned with all three, though this article is concerned with the menace faced from the Dragon. In this connection, the writer has found the articles by defence analyst B. Raman, former secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, and currently associated with the Chennai Institute for Chinese Studies, particularly helpful.


The Nepal Maoists are currently split into various factions and are no longer the unified force they were during the insurrection, 1996-2006. B. Raman has examined various aspects of the Chinese presence in Nepal and how this impacts on India. The Chinese enjoyed a certain privileged relationship with the Nepalese kings who did a balancing and clever act between India and China. Until the Maoists came to power in the coalition government in 2006, after a ten year insurrection, China had distanced itself from the Maoists and even helped the king to fight the insurrection. So did India, until it appeared that King Gyanendra was playing a double game. But now the Chinese are using the Nepalese Maoists to further their own aims in the region.


As the world knows, China is an unabashedly capitalist country. The noble aim of Karl Marx: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, was never practiced in Maoist China. Today, China is in league with the world's capitalist powers.


What is Beijing’s agenda in Nepal where it now has a significant presence through the exercise of soft power - aid to Nepal, hydroelectric projects, exchange of students, subsidising trips to China etc?


China has three goals in Nepal: to use the Nepalese Maoists to oppress and quell Tibetan revolts against Chinese domination; to downgrade India which stands in the way of its great power ambitions in south Asia and its domination of Tibet; and to build its own economic clout by exploiting the natural resources of Nepal.


While the West is also fishing in troubled waters in Nepal, that is not yet an imminent threat to India. And issues such as the presence of genetically modified crops by Western corporations such as Monsanto are being taken up by the relevant NGOs (as well they should).


India must focus clearly on the first two questions. Tibet has always been a home of Buddhism outside India. While Buddhism in the Far East, in Vietnam and Japan, has been eclipsed by conversions to Christianity, Tibetans continue to follow their traditional religion, a mix of the native Bon and Buddhism from India. In that sense the Dalai Lama is a dharmic leader, and whatever the reasons for the Western powers’ support of his cause, Hindus of India have a religious/spiritual reason to oppose Beijing’s policy in Tibet. The selection by China of the Panchen Lama did not go well with the people and the Chinese leadership fears that if and when the Dalai Lama passes on there will be disturbances. Hence their use of Nepalese Maoists to keep the Tibetans in line.


Articles by Indic scholars make it abundantly clear that the Chinese are simultaneously pragmatic and ambitious in their relations with the world and especially their neighbour India. Raman has pointed out that while they may not repeat the adventurism of 1962 since they have a lot more to lose now than then, an aerial attack cannot be ruled out. Their pragmatism tells them not to waste time, money and resources in fresh battle with India, but their ambitions cannot always be held in check. A nuclear attack is also not on the cards. However, they engage in what is called ‘salami slicing’, the slow incremental advance, as in Arunachal Pradesh. Their early and ongoing military and logistical support to Pakistan is not altruistic, but to keep India off balance. Should war break out, India will have to fight on two fronts.


Hence, while a cautious and limited economic engagement with the Dragon is well advised (such as business enterprises by noted giants like Tata) it should be kept well under control. The recent scandal involving telecommunications is a case in point. China cannot be allowed to have input into India's telecommunications. Trade in goods and other services can be encouraged up to a point, but not to the extent that it is allowed to flood the market with cheap goods and drive Indian small and medium entrepreneurs out of business.


In Nepal, India's soft power is slowly declining because of the steady beat of anti-India propaganda. Many Indian companies are finding it difficult because of the hostility being fanned against them. At the same time, China is vigorously promoting its own projects in Nepal, which are not only profitable to it, but demonstrate the use of soft power. Unlike in Tibet, this is working for them. The highway, the railway line etc. are also effective support for their military designs against India.


In such a context, India must not only safeguard its territory using military defence and diplomacy, its enterprises and its economy, but also its Hindu ethos. This last call cannot be neglected because no civilisation folds up purely from external causes and attacks. The strength of Bharatiya civilisation for several millennia has always been and will continue to be its enduring dharmic ethos as upheld by the ordinary citizen and the traditional acharyas and mathams.


Elements in the middle class however, can be lured by the attractions of a false communistic propaganda. The effect of this propaganda is two-fold: the illusion that some millenarian style (revolutionary) action is the solution to the problems of society, hence the refusal to engage in a careful modest approach to social reform. The devilish actions of the Naxalites are well known; many of its leaders were middle class ideologues.


There is a story that Maoist Kishanji who used to train potential revolutionaries by hardening them to bloodshed by the routine slaughter of helpless animals and slogans such as power lies in the barrel of a gun. There is misleading propaganda that state power has to be seized and dismantled to achieve social goals. In India, there is mindless violence against individual policemen such as beheading. In Nepal, the numbers of civilians killed runs into thousands, and the retaliation by the Nepalese state is said to be equal. The direct link of the Nepalese Maoists to Indian insurgents is well known, so also China's clandestine support via this route.

These practices are borrowed directly from the Maoist dictionary from across the border. To the extent that Beijing keeps up its propaganda in Nepal and elsewhere, it acts as a magnet to immature and unsteady minds elsewhere. The fact that the Nepalese Maoists have given up all thoughts of world revolution is not the issue; they have. What has persisted, hovering over their psyches, are the diabolical philosophies that they learned from Maoism.

The asuric forces across the border must be resolutely rejected. Under no circumstance should they be glorified. Hindus should worry about the Dragon while setting their own house in order so that diabolical influences cannot make inroads. The question then is not only should Hindus worry about the Dragon in Nepal, but also in what sense they should so worry.

The writer is a Political Philosopher who taught at a Canadian university

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