Monday, April 19, 2010



A 7.1-magnitude earthquake rocked the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu in northwest China's Qinghai Province, on April 14,2010,
killing 1,339 persons----the majority of them Tibetans.Another 332 persons have been reported missing.

2. The epicenter was about 50 km west of the Jiegu Township, the government seat of the Yushu Prefecture, and about 800 km from Xining, the provincial capital. The prefecture has a total area of 267,000 square kilometers and, according to the Chinese media, a population of about 252,700 people, 97 per cent of whom are ethnic Tibetans.

3.Yushu is located at about 4,000 meters above the sea level. The high altitude, thin air, freezing temperatures and electricity shortages have hampered the rescue operations. Braving these difficulties, the Chinese authorities led from the front by President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabo have mobilised massive rescue and relief work. On hearng about the quake, Prime Minister Wen rushed to the affected areas to supervise the rescue and relief operations mounted by the local authorities, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese Red Cross. President Hu cut short his travel in Latin America and rushed to Yushu to join Wen in supervising the rescue and relief operations.

4. The fact that the Qinghai-Tibet Railway line, which is about 360 kms away from the epi centre, has remained undamaged by the quake has helped the Chinese authorities in rushing relief material and personnel to the affected areas.

5. The rapidity and efficiency with which the Chinese authorities have mobilised the relief operations have been highlighted by the Western media, which look upon it as an indicator of the competence and efficiency of China's disaster relief machinery. They have also seen in the impressive relief operations a Chinese keenness to express their solidarity with the Tibetans at their hour of tragedy and wean them away from their feelings of alienation towards the Hans. In their reports from the quake-hit areas, Chinese media have been projecting those who are engaged in the rescue and relief operations as the Tibetans' " Han uncles" and as the "Han uncles" of the PLA.

6. Large sections of the Han population in the rest of China and China's netizen community (about 380 million) have also rallied to the support of the Tibetans affected by the quake by making donations and appealing for donations from others." Tonight we are all Tibetans," said a message appealing for donations.

7. Even His Holiness the Dalai Lama has expressed his appreciation of the way the rescue and relief operations have been organised in this area in which His Holiness himself and the previous Panchen Lama were born. His Holiness has also noted with appreciation the role played by Prime Minister Wen in supervising the operations. His Holiness has said in his message: "I also applaud the Chinese authorities for visiting the affected areas, especially Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who has not only personally offered comfort to the affected communities, but has also overseen the relief work. I am very appreciative too that the media have been free to report on the tragedy and its aftermath."

8. The Chinese authorities have welcomed assistance from the international community to supplement their efforts. Messages of sympathy and solidarity with the affected people have been pouring into China. The Government-owned Xinhua news agency has been publishing details of these messages and of the foreign help received. A careful monitoring of these details surprisingly show that India and our Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh do not figure in this list. Even the names of Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives and their leaders figure.

9. One is certain India too must have expressed its solidarity and contributed its assistance. If so, why this is being treated in such a low-profile manner? Why are India and our Prime Minister not in the forefront of those in the international community rushing to the assistance of the affected Tibetans? What is preventing or discouraging us from doing so? (19-4-10)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )


ambi said...

PM ko IPL, Modi or Tharoor se fursat mile tab na. New Delhi wastes so much energy, time n money on such unnesessary things.

Ram said...

It is the Indian cowardice manifesting again as Pm Singh Govt. and Congress party is too cowardly or lazy to help Tibetans in hour of need!DAlai Lama should goad INdian Govt. into action even now.

Icarus Invictus said...

There are a few things to note with respect to this article and viewed in context of Indian FM's recently concluded trip to the Giant eastern neighbor and the troubled past between the two emerging powers. Let me lay out the facts in front of readers.
1. Indian Foreign minister just concluded his maiden visit to china. Part of his visit that was highlighted was the shared history of 60 years and starting of the Indian Festival in china. The spin that was given to the media was that all is well and the rise of the dragon is peaceful.
2. Krishna's Visit is also needs to be seen in the backdrop of Chinese incursions in the north-east. The issue of stapled visas in context of Kashmir, opposition of Chinese to the Indians at IMF and security council membership, covert and overt support of Beijing to Pakistan. Also to mention were the infrastructure development in Kashmir. There are host of other reasons, which are beyond the scope of this discussion.
3. Indians are pinned down on two fronts (internal as well as external). Infiltration in J&K is expected to rise with melting snow from Pakistan using various routes; naxalism is manifesting itself violently after years of neglect. Not to say the Chinese don't have problems, but their way of dealing with is different than the Indians.
4. China still has not attained that 'critical mass' economically or militarily to start calling the ‘shots’. Militarily it does not even have an aircraft carrier, to project its power. But, very soon, you shall see its influence in the Indian Ocean. Although it’s rising very fast in terms of modernizing its army and with economy growing at a rate of 12% (in 2010). The Indians with their multi party democracy cannot match that 'organic' growth. Indians will have hype, media spins but average growth of 7-8% at max.
5. 1962 debacle has had a huge impact on Indian Psyche. Indian policy makers obsessed with Pakistan, other than occasional rants and raves by politicians like George Fernandez etc, which did not really have a policy impact as it was cleverly retracted some days later. Its like close your eyes and its night already.
Interesting to note here is Bollywood produces movies about Indo-pak wars, but they rarely produced any on Sino-India conflict. Taking cue from the same (however incorrect it may come across), the policy makers and even the army have till very recently looked the other way to developments in the east across the border. Indians have just started infrastructure d development in bordering regions. In short, Indians are unwilling to open a third front with an aggressive super power in making. Militarily, politically and economically India cannot match the Chinese. It’s a fact and one can be jingoistic about it or practical.
6. The Chinese realize that to attain critical mass as mentioned in point 4, they need internal peace and external peace. It’s a part of Confucian philosophy ingrained in the mind of Chinese. You don’t talk Tibet and we won’t talk Arunanchal Pradesh. But the questions looms for of Indians is for how long? They will claim this part of India very soon. This needs to be viewed in terms of Chinese history (concept of state and civilization) accession of HK to China and very recent meeting of Obama with Dalai Lama.
7. Indian has a card in terms of Dalai lama, which it can play to its advantage. Sooner or later he is going to die. He is already approaching is 80’s. The next lama is from China and in Chinese colors and India has just lost it final trump card. What do you think the Chinese are waiting for? Keep the Tibetans, feed them, good for you! The new Lama is Chinese (last article by Mr. Raman(
7. I remember a few lines from a song by Tom Petty, it says something like “You are Changing, I am changing and the world is changing right before your eyes”

ambi said...

Hi icarus invictus your all points may be correct only a minor mistake i found in your observation.

India's economic growth is more than China's in this decade, if u consider in dollar terms. (Not that i am an financial expert, just read it some where).

Sarang said...

Forget our PM worrying about Tibet, where was he when millions were affected (killed or made homeless) by the recent storm in Bengal? Did he visit the relatives of the CRPF jawans martyred in the Dantewada massacre?

The government and newspapers were busy with IPL, Tharoor, Sunanda, Shoib-Sania, SRK and what not, because thats where the MONEY is!