New biography hinting Gandhi as racist and pervert creates resentment

A new biography on M. K. Gandhi ,  Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his struggle with India, authored by Mr. Lelyveld  is creating controversy.  The book is published by Knopf Publishing Group. The author was once a New York Times correspondent in India and South Africa and later the newspaper’s executive editor.  The book provides details of some aspects of life of Gandhi hinting that he was bisexual and racist.

The Wall Street Journal review of the book said it recast Gandhi as “a sexual weirdo, a political incompetent, a fanatical faddist, implacably racist, and a ceaseless self-promoter, professing his love for mankind as a concept while actually despising people as individuals.”

The author of a new book on the life of Mahatma Gandhi angrily dismissed claims that he alleged Gandhi left his wife for a gay lover or was a racist. Lelyveld said his book had been misinterpreted by the press. He said the word “bisexual” appears nowhere in the book and the word “racist” is used once to describe comments by Gandhi during his stay in South Africa.”

Kallenbach was born in Germany but emigrated to South Africa where he became a wealthy architect.  Gandhi was working there and Kallenbach became one of his closest disciples. The pair lived together for two years in a house Kallenbach built in South Africa and pledged to give one another ‘more love, and yet more love . . . such love as they hope the world has not yet seen.’

At the age of 13 Gandhi had been married to 14-year-old Kasturbai Makhanji, but after four children together they split in 1908 so he could be with Kallenbach, the book says.

At one point he wrote to the German: ‘Your portrait (the only one) stands on my mantelpiece in my bedroom. The mantelpiece is opposite to the bed.’ Although it is not clear why, Gandhi wrote that vaseline and cotton wool were a ‘constant reminder’ of Kallenbach. He nicknamed himself ‘Upper House’ and his lover ‘Lower House’ and he vowed to make Kallenbach promise not to ‘look lustfully upon any woman’. They were separated in 1914 when Gandhi went back to India – Kallenbach was not allowed into India because of the First World War, after which they stayed in touch by letter. As late as 1933 he wrote a letter telling of his unending desire and branding his ex-wife ‘the most venomous woman I have met’.

It details how even in his 70s he regularly slept with his 17-year-old great niece Manu and and other women but tried to not to become sexually excited. He once told a woman: ‘Despite my best efforts, the organ remained aroused. It was an altogether strange and shameful experience.’ The biography also details one instance in which he forced Manu to walk through a part of the jungle where sexual assaults had in the past taken place just to fetch a pumice stone for him he liked to use to clean his feet.

She returned with tears in her eyes but Gandhi just ‘cackled’ and said: ‘If some ruffian had carried you off and you had met your death courageously, my heart would have danced with joy.’

In another startling revelation, the book claims he held racist views against South African blacks.  “We were marched off to a prison intended for Kaffirs,” he is quoted as saying during a visit to the country. “We could understand not being classed with whites, but to be placed on the same level as the Natives seemed too much to put up with. Kaffirs are as a rule uncivilised.”

A close reading of letters between Gandhi and his German friend Hermann Kallenbach reveals that the reviewers of Joseph Lelyveld’s book went overboard with their interpretation of the father of the nation being a bisexual. The letters are steeped in late 19th-early 20th century style of overflowing English.

Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi said, “It’s very difficult a western oriented person, especially British and American authors to understand that there can be relationships that have no sexual connotation.”

Indian Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily on Tuesday said the Centre was planning to ban the controversial book by Pulitzer Prize-winning former editor of The New York Times Joseph Lelyveld that has quoted correspondence to suggest Mahatma Gandhi was bisexual.  Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi too urged the Central government to ban the book.  “The apostle of truth, peace and non-violence has been represented in a perverted manner. I urge the Central government to ban its (book’s) sale and publication,’” Modi told reporters in Gandhinagar.

“This is the most un-Gandhian thing to do,” said Tushar Gandhi, the great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, reacting to the Maharashtra government’s “knee-jerk” reaction to propose a ban on a new biography of Gandhi, The Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi And His Struggle With India.  “I will definitely take legal opinion on this. This culture of banning and burning has to be opposed. Bapu never accepted this kind of state censorship. He never shut out his critics. Instead he welcomed them to a public debate,” said Tushar, adding that this was probably the first instance of a book being banned based on its reviews.

REVEALED: THE INDIA CABLES FROM WIKILEAKS

Starting today, March 15, The Hindu offers its readers a series of unprecedented insights into India’s foreign policy and domestic affairs, diplomatic, political, economic, social, cultural, and intellectual – encountered, observed, tracked, interpreted, commented upon, appreciated, and pilloried by U.S. diplomats cabling the State Department in Washington D.C.

The range of subjects, issues, and persons covered by the India Cables is extraordinary. While the trained diplomat’s eye is almost always on the ball – the developing Indo-U.S. strategic relationship and everything that helps or hinders it – the range includes India’s relations with its neighbours, with Russia, the European Union, East Asia, Israel, Palestine, Iran, and the rest of West Asia, Africa, Cuba, the United Nations. It covers issues and actions relating to defence cooperation, nuclear policy, arms control, terrorism, intelligence sharing, export control, human rights, Indian bureaucracy, environment, AfPak, and much more. There is a special focus on 26/11, Kashmir, India’s policy towards and dealings with Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, and where the Indian polity is headed.

Politicians of all shades, diplomats and other officials, sleuths, businessmen, journalists, busybodies, bigwigs and smallwigs figure in the WikiLeaks India Cache – which comprises 5,100 U.S. Embassy and consulate cables relevant to India (not all of them originating in India) and aggregates an astonishing six million words.

These American diplomats have been trained to listen, probe and prod, massage egos, milk sources, report, and write (supplying accessible and, at times, witty and elegant headings and sub-headings) to inform, analyse, and amuse – as though they were full-time journalists. Many of them work like wire service beavers: long lunches, yes, but very often, same day reports of important meetings. Few things escape their notice. Most of the time, they see Indian men, women, and matters through the reflected mirror of U.S. strategic interests and policy.

The India Cables have been accessed by The Hindu through an arrangement with WikiLeaks that involves no financial transaction and no financial obligations on either side. As with the larger ‘Cablegate’ cache to which these cables belong, they are classified into six categories: confidential, confidential/noforn (confidential, no foreigners), secret, secret/noforn, unclassified, and unclassified/for official use only.

Our contacts with WikiLeaks were initiated in the second week of December 2010. It was a period when Cablegate had captured the attention and imagination of a news-hungry world.

Gaddafi vows ‘long war’ after US, allies strike

The US and European nations targeted Muammar Gaddafi’s forces with airstrikes and dozens of cruise missiles, shaking the Libyan capital with explosions and the sound of gunfire early Sunday. The Libyan leader vowed a long war “with unlimited patience and deep faith.” 

State television said 48 people had died in the strikes, which marked the widest international military effort since the Iraq war. They were aimed at enforcing a UN mandated no-fly zone in support of rebels who have seen early gains reversed by the regime’s superior air power and weaponry.

 In Benghazi, the rebel capital and first city to fall to the uprising that began February 15, people said the international action happened just in time. Libyan government tanks and troops had reached the edges of the city on Saturday.

“It was a matter of minutes and Gaddafi’s forces would have been in Benghazi,” said Akram Abdul Wahab, a 20-year-old butcher in the city.

In the phone call to state television, Gaddafi said he would not let up on the rebel-held city and said the government had opened up weapons depots to all Libyans, who were now armed with automatic weapons, mortars and bombs.

 The US military said 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from American and British ships and submarines at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya’s air force. French fighter jets fired the first salvos, carrying out several strikes in the rebel-held east, while British fighter jets also bombarded the North African nation.

 President Barack Obama said military action was not his first choice and reiterated that he would not send American ground troops.

 “This is not an outcome the US or any of our partners sought,” Obama said from Brazil, where he is starting a five-day visit to Latin America. “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.”

 Thousands of regime supporters, meanwhile, packed into the sprawling Bab al-Aziziya military camp in Tripoli where Gaddafi lives to protect against attacks.

 Explosions rocked the coastal cities, including Tripoli, where anti-aircraft guns could be heard firing overnight.

 Libyan TV quoted the armed forces command as saying 48 people were killed and 150 wounded in the allied assault. It said most of the casualties were children but gave no more details.

 The International Committee of the Red Cross said it was deeply concerned about civilians and called on all sides to work to distinguish between civilians and fighters and allow safe access for humanitarian organizations.

 Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya for 41 years, said the international action against his forces was unjustified, calling it “simply a colonial crusader aggression that may ignite another large-scale crusader war.”

 His regime acted quickly in the run-up to the strikes, sending warplanes, tanks and troops into the eastern city of Benghazi, the rebel capital and first city to fall to the rebellion that began February 15. Then the government attacks appeared to go silent.

 Operation Odyssey Dawn, as the allied assault has been dubbed, followed an emergency summit in Paris during which the 22 leaders and top officials agreed to do everything necessary to make Gaddafi respect a UN Security Council resolution Thursday calling for the no-fly zone and demanding a cease-fire, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said.

 Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, told reporters in Washington that US ships and a British submarine had launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defenses.

 Gortney said the mission has two goals, firstly to prevent further attacks by Libyan forces on rebels and civilians, and secondly, to degrade the Libyan military’s ability to contest a no-fly zone.

Defense officials cautioned it was too early to fully gauge the impact of the onslaught. But a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the mission was ongoing, said the Americans felt that Libya’s air defenses had been heavily damaged given the precision targeting of the cruise missiles.

 Mohammed Ali, a spokesman for the exiled opposition group the Libyan Salvation Front, said the Libyan air force headquarters at the Mateiga air base in eastern Tripoli and the Aviation Academy in Misrata had been targeted.

 About 20 French fighter jets carried out several strikes earlier Saturday, military spokesman Thierry Burkhard told The Associated Press.

 “All our planes have returned to base tonight,” he said, and denied a Libyan TV report that a French plane had been hit.

 He would not elaborate on what was hit or where, but said French forces are focusing on the Benghazi area and US forces are focused in the west.

 The US has struck Libya before. Former President Reagan launched US airstrikes on Libya in 1986 after a bombing at a Berlin disco, which the US blamed on Libya, that killed three people, including two American soldiers. The airstrikes killed about 100 people in Libya, including Gaddafi’s young adopted daughter at his Tripoli compound.

 The rebels said earlier that they had hoped for more, sooner from the international community, after a day when crashing shells shook the buildings of Benghazi and Gaddafi’s tanks rumbled through the university campus.

 “People are disappointed, they haven’t seen any action yet. The leadership understands some of the difficulties with procedures but when it comes to procedures versus human lives the choice is clear,” said Essam Gheriani, a spokesman for the opposition. “People on the streets are saying where are the international forces? Is the international community waiting for the same crimes to be perpetrated on Benghazi has have been done by Gaddafi in the other cities?”

 Saturday’s fighting galvanized the people of Benghazi, with young men collecting bottles to make gasoline bombs. Some residents dragged bed frames and metal scraps into the streets to make roadblocks.

 “This city is a symbol of the revolution, it’s where it started and where it will end if this city falls,” said Gheriani.

Raja aide Sadiq Batcha found dead in Chennai

Sadiq Batcha, aide of former Telecom Minister A. Raja, committed suicide by hanging at his residence here on Wednesday, police said. He left behind a suicide note, which said the media’s coverage of the 2G spectrum allocation scam had maligned his image in society, the police claimed.

The death evoked statements expressing suspicion over its probable cause from political parties, and the Tamil Nadu government announced that the case would be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Mr. Batcha (38), Managing Director of city-based export firm Green House Promoters, was under the CBI scanner for his suspected links with those involved in the 2G case and was questioned by the agency on February 22 in Delhi. Earlier, his residence here was searched.

At 12.45 p.m., Mr. Batcha was found hanging by a rope normally used for the cradle of his younger child in the bedroom of his residence in Teynampet, police sources said.

His family members rushed him to Apollo Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. The body was taken to the Government Royapettah Hospital for post-mortem, which is scheduled for Thursday morning.

According to the First Information Report registered at the Teynampet police station after a complaint was lodged by Mr. Batcha’s wife Reha Banu, Ms. Banu went to pick up her elder child from school at 10.45 a.m. and returned soon. Around 12.45 p.m., she went to the first floor and knocked on the bedroom door to call Mr. Batcha for lunch. But he didn’t respond. Drivers and helpers at the house broke open the door and found him hanging, the report said.

Reliable police sources said Ms. Banu and her children were heading to their native village after the death, but were called back by the police.

The police, who conducted the preliminary investigation at Mr. Batcha’s house, found the suicide note in which he had also asked his wife to stay in Chennai and take care of the children, and his brother-in-law to get married soon, the sources said.

A case of death under suspicious circumstances under Section 174 of the Cr.PC has been registered.

Wiped out: Japan wakes up to devastation

RIKUZENTAKATA came into being on January 1, 1955. But in less than a minute on Friday March 11, 2011, it was gone.

The might of nature has no respect for history nor the 24,000 people that called the coastal city home.

Horrified people all over the world watched news footage of the wall of muddy water tearing through its residential district, offices and factories like a steamroller.

It left only a black swamp and the bodies of 400 victims discovered by rescuers yesterday. The apocalyptic aftermath of Rikuzentakata’s destruction was revealed as rescuers warned that 10,000 people may have died in another city devastated by Friday’s earthquake and the resulting tsunami.

READ: Risk of radiation

Minamisanriku had a population of 17,000 but nearly two in three are feared to have perished. The shocking toll has led to predictions that the number of deaths across Japan will be in the tens of thousands.

While rescuers and medics struggled to cope with the quake’s grim aftermath, a massive explosion at a nuclear power plant sparked a radiation alert.

It caused walls and the roof of the Fukushima Number 1 plant to collapse, sending plumes of smoke into the air. Four workers were hurt and there were fears of a Chernobyl-style meltdown.

In Rikuzentakata, rescue teams were faced with the harrowing task of collecting corpses from the debris as survivors stumbled pitifully seeking relatives and friends.

On Friday, the north eastern coastal city had been buzzing with thousands of cars in the evening rush hour. But in moments the monstrous tsunami had crushed all in its path, leaving just a tangled mess of wrecked wooden homes.

The densely populated city, where 102 people packed each square kilometre, became a floating graveyard with some homes swept up to six miles away.

Shivering in a rescue centre, one survivor in her seventies said: “My husband is missing. Tsunami water was rising to my knees and I told him I would go first. He is not here yet.

“I’m waiting for my son to come here but I cannot call him because mobile phones aren’t working.”

Rescued... a man who was trapped is carried by a Japan Self-Defense Force soldier in Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture Rescued… a man who was trapped is carried by a Japan Self-Defense Force soldier in Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture Reuters

Pictures from the air showed military helicopters lifting people from rooftops and submerged buildings surrounded by water and debris.

Mothers carried tots on their backs as they searched for loved ones amid the spiralling death toll.

Dozens of towns and villages along a 1,300-mile stretch of coastline were shattered by the violent tremors. Some remained inaccessible last night.

Police said as many as 300 bodies had been found in Sendai, the city closest to the epicentre. A further 137 were confirmed killed with 531 people missing.

Its airport was inundated with thick, muddy debris including cars, trucks, buses and even light planes. Large parts of Kesennuma, a town of 70,000 people, burned furiously into the night.

In nearby Iwanuma, terrifed staff and patients spelled out S.O.S. on a hospital roof.

In the city of Minamisoma, mud-soaked residents searched frantically for members of their families. A 40-year-old woman found the name of her parents on a list of evacuees – but her husband’s name was not there. Chusei Sato, a 61-year-old farmer who is searching for two relatives, watched from the top of a hill as the waters surged over the city. He said: “The tsunami devoured all the farm fields in a moment.”

Akira Onoda, 74, a hospital worker, told how he was trying to get home after the initial quake when he saw a woman rushing his way screaming “Tsunami!” He saw the massive waves trailing her but managed to escape by car.

Disaster... all that remains of Rikuzentakata Disaster… all that remains of Rikuzentakata

Quake survivors turned to internet sites such as Twitter and Google in a desperate bid to locate missing loved ones. Meanwhile the hunt continued for four trains including a bullet train carrying 300 passengers.

The quake was almost 8,000 times stronger than one that struck New Zealand last month and the resultant tsunami scattered fishing boats and trucks as if they were toys.

The tsunami roared over embankments, washing anything in its path inland before reversing directions and carrying cars, homes and other debris out to sea. A local official in Futuba, in Fukushima prefecture, said more than 90 per cent of houses in three coastal communities had been washed away. The official local death toll was 703 with 784 missing and 1,000 injured.

But it was feared these figures wildly underestimated the scale of the disaster.

Unconfirmed reports said 200 bodies had been transferred to gymnasiums in Iwanuma and Natori. The number of partially or completely destroyed buildings was put at 3,400 with more than 200 fires still raging. Around 5.57 million households had lost power.

The 8.9 magnitude quake, which struck at 2.46pm local time on Friday, left one of the world’s most advanced nations struggling to cope with its aftermath.

Yesterday help began to arrive from more than 60 countries. In capital Tokyo, hundreds of thousands remained stranded by the suspension of plane and train services.

With hotels full, hundreds of schools in the city took in stranded commuters. Yokohama Arena and Saitama Super Arena, normally used by concerts and events, were also being used as temporary shelter. A refinery in nearby Chiba caught fire.

Japan was last night braced for further tsunamis sparked by aftershocks. One with a magnitude of 6.7 yesterday rocked an inland area northwest of Tokyo.

Tragic toll from wave of death

Map of death... Japan Map of death… Japan

Our map shows the area of north-east Japan that was devastated by the tsunami following Friday’s powerful earthquake beneath the ocean.

Towns, cities and villages along the coast suffered destruction on an unimaginable scale and massive loss of life as a terrifying wall of water swept several miles inland.

The unforgiving wave crushed everything in its path. Last night the horrendous toll across Japan from the quake and tsunami stood at 1,300 dead, 1,280 injured and 12,000 missing.

Foreign secretary William Hague urged UK nationals in Japan to make contact with the British Embassy in Tokyo on +(81) 3 5211 1100 or the Consulate-General in Osaka on +(81) 6 6120 5600.

A number of charities are accepting donations for tsunami victims including the Red Cross.

  • To help find loved ones missing after the quake, use Google’s person finder.

All eyes on 2G probe after DMK-Cong deal

The three days of political drama finally ended on Tuesday with the DMK conceding 63 seats for the Congress in Tamil Nadu polls. “We are happy to announce the alliance. It’s a winning alliance and we will come back to power again,” said Gulam Nabi Azad. Now that the seat sharing deal is sealed, the questions being asked are who blinked first and what is the deal that has been hammered out? The deal raises many more questions over the investigations into the 2G scam, like if there will be a slow down in the ongoing CBI investigations into the 2G scam.

 

 

Congress sources have said the demand by the DMK is to go slow on the family with regard to the investigations.

 

 

 

Former telecom minister A Raja’s arrest and the raids by the CBI on the DMK-owned Kalaignar TV have been seen as attacks on the Karunanidhi family.

 

 

 

But the 2G investigations are under the direct monitoring of the Supreme Court and Congress sources say that it will not be possible for the Congress to intervene at this juncture.

 

 

 

The question however is if the CBI digs deep into the 2G scam, will the alliance be able to survive?

 

 

 

The Congress and the DMK were deadlocked on a deal over sharing of seats in the upcoming Tamil Nadu assembly elections following DMK’s decision on Saturday to pull out its ministers from the UPA Government over Congress attitude.

 

 

 

The Congress was insisting on contesting 63 seats whereas the DMK was prepared to give 60, twelve more over the number Congress contested in the last elections. DMK was also not wiling to concede to Congress the choice of seats.

 

 

 

On Friday night, Karunanidhi had accused the Congress of being unreasonable by escalating the demand for seats from 50 to 53 to 57 and then to 60. And after agreeing to settle for 60, the party later raised the demand to 63, he had complained.

 

 

 

DMK’s sudden announcement of resignation by its ministers on Saturday took the Congress by surprise. A miffed Congress – used to succumbing to allied pressure – decided to finally take a stand. Congress sources said that what upset it the most was the demand by the party to go slow on the family with regard to 2G investigations. Congress said its hands were tied by the Supreme Court order. It’s when the DMK was unrelenting that Sonia decided to step in.

 

 

 

The DMK-Congess alliance is back on track after Sonia Gandhi decided to step in. An angry Sonia even ticked off Azhagiri and Dayanidhi Maran. Sources said that she accused the DMK of violating the coalition dharma. She went on to suggest that her party was prepared to go it alone in the elections.

 

 

 

This is when the message hit the DMK hard, having realised that things could go worse on the 2G front and that there was no way Congress would relent. Now, the DMK will have to explain its cadre and voters that it did not give in completely to the Congress.

Will a Dalai Lama succed another Dalai Lama?

Talking about his rebirth in 1996, the Dalai Lama quoted one of his favourite prayers: “So long as space remains and suffering of sentient beings is there, I will remain in order to serve.” Then he contradicted himself. “Regarding the institution of the Dalai Lama, whether that institution should remain or not is not my business. The people of Tibet, they have the right. If they want to keep it, it will remain. If it’s not relevant for them, it will cease,” said Tenzin Gyatso, better known as the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual and temporal head of all Tibetans.

In recent years, the Dalai Lama has often spoken about his next reincarnation. At times, in conflicting terms. In 2008, when asked if he would be the last Dalai Lama, the monk told Germany’s “Der Spiegel”: “Everything is possible: a conclave, like in the Catholic church, a woman as my successor, no Dalai Lama anymore, or perhaps even two, since the Communist party has, astonishingly enough, given itself the right to be responsible for reincarnations.”

Thursday’s announcement by the Dalai Lama seems to have settled the political part of his institution but the future of his spiritual role remains open to speculation. After Tenzin Gyatso is gone, there are four possibilities:

* No Dalai Lama

* Two Dalai Lamas: one in Tibet, another somewhere in exile

* A woman Dalai Lama appointed by him

* A leader of another Tibetan Buddhist lineage inheriting his spiritual role

Beijing is at least partly responsible for this confusion. In 2007, China enacted a law that asserted the Chinese government was the final authority in the process that recognizes a reincarnated lama. In February, Hao Peng, a Chinese Communist Party official told a group of foreign journalists that rebirths of “all Tibetan spiritual leaders, including the Dalai Lama, must be approved by the Chinese central government.”

An official of the Tibetan government in exile explains the community’s nervousness about it all. “China has plans to select a 15th Dalai Lama. That’s why it’s important for the Dalai Lama to put clear guidelines about his next reincarnation and designate people who will be responsible for finding the next one”.

Will there be another Dalai Lama? According to Tibetan Buddhist belief, the Dalai Lama is the embodiment of Avalokitesvara, a Bodhisattva of compassion, who stays on earth to help people. In this tradition, reincarnated lamas control their rebirth. When high lamas such as the Dalai are involved, the identification of the next reincarnation is a complicated procedure. China claims the authority to choose the Dalai Lama because it possesses the Golden Urn, a relic that was used by the Manchu emperors to anoint Tibetan lamas in their efforts to exert control over Tibet. In 1995, China used the urn ceremony to appoint the 11th Panchen Lama, rejecting the boy identified by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama.

Tibet’s Future Scenario

So far, events have followed the script. On March 10, an emotional day for Tibetans in exile because it was the 52nd anniversary of a failed uprising in Lhasa, their head lama announced he would abdicate political responsibility. The announcement was followed by sentimental appeals for him to stay on as political leader.

Some supporters started a signature campaign to force him to change his mind. But the Dalai Lama appeared determined. He had firmly put the ball in the court of the Tibetan parliament in exile, which will start discussing his proposal tomorrow.

Events may run foul of the script from tomorrow. The situation might change completely after March 20, when Tibetans in exile elect their next kalon tripa or prime minister of their government in exile. What is likely to unfold?

SCENARIO ONE | STATUS QUO

Highly unlikely but the Tibetan parliament could reject the Dalai Lama’s proposal or ask him to reconsider it. A Tibetan MP, one of the 43 who will vote on the issue, admits “it’s a big dilemma for us. On one hand, we don’t want him to go and on the other hand, we can’t reject his offer. Maybe we will ask the next parliament to take the decision.”

The MPs will have to consider the negative fallout of putting the ball back in the Dalai Lama’s court or passing it on to the new parliament. It would give credence to China’s allegation that the Tibetan leader’s announcement was a “trick”. In the event of such high drama, leading Tibetan officials admit, the main issue – the Tibetan struggle – could become a casualty. This is why their current prime minister, Samdhong Rinpoche, made clear on Friday that the Tibetan movement would continue even after the Dalai Lama’s retirement from politics. “It is a struggle for a nation,” he said.

However long the Tibetan parliament and the new prime minister takes to write the rulebook that devolves the Dalai Lama’s powers, his political retirement is sure to mean a new set of worries. “Our government is not recognized by any nation in the world. So in what capacity the all powerful Kalon Tripa and other ministers meet the world leaders? Right now, the Dalai Lama performs this role because of his stature of being a Buddhist leader and a Nobel laureate. The prime minister will not have this privilege,” says a member of the kashag or cabinet in Dharamsala.

SCENARIO TWO | ALL CHANGE

Whatever the Tibetan parliament’s decision on the Dalai Lama’s proposal, there are likely to be new headaches for Delhi. India is cautious about the Dalai Lama’s decision to become a simple spiritual refugee. An official of the ministry of external affairs said on condition of anonymity that “we would rather prefer no change in the present system. China has repeatedly asked us to shut down the Tibetan government in exile. Now, this pressure may increase”.

New Delhi is also thinking about other practical problems for when the Dalai Lama withdraws from the political scene. The Tibetan leader has representatives in 11 capitals, including Delhi. They serve as unofficial ambassadors of the government in exile. “If the kalon tripa is the new political head, will these representatives continue to represent the Dalai Lama or will they be called ambassadors. How will China react to it?” says an Indian official, suggesting the Tibetans move with caution.

However they move, the Tibetan parliament has a huge task on its hands. The MPs have to make laws for the appointment and dismissal of officials. Till now, the Dalai Lama was in charge. “This development will bring massive changes in our systemic changes. This will truly challenge the community,” says the kashag member.

SCENARIO THREE | COSMETIC CHANGE
It’s entirely possible that the government in exile may implement cosmetic change and the centre of power will continue to be the Dalai Lama. “Let one thing be clear, till he is around he will call the shots. The change he has proposed is his way of preparing us for the post-Dalai scenario,” says a Tibetan MP. Others agree that the planned change is part of a larger issue – who, if anyone, succeeds the 14th Dalai Lama (see accompanying story).

This is why, the process of transition may take a long time. In this fluid scenario, there are only three constants: the Tibetan movement will continue as before; China will continue to spit fire at the Dalai Lama and India will watch developments with anxiety.

This script is clearly work in progress.

Cong UPA break up – Logical climax of 2G strain?

It all started with PM defending Raja, Kapil Sibal saying no loss to Govt. exchequer. But, it was always known that Cong & DMK had to split after 2G. Seat sharing may be just an excuse, after all this is just for 3 extra seats. Either party probably wanted the same. Congress might want to venture TN like what it did in UP during general elections. May be  it would like to continue its damage control actions; show that it is trying to clean up its tainted image. At the same time DMK might also want to show that it does not accept to every action of Cong. It could not have done much in the case of Raja, but it can passively act by severeing the relation now. But the bottom line is all political parties act in the same way….Cong. or DMK or anyone else.. Their interest is at the helm & then the rest.