Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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Let down before they died

By Pranab Bora

China let the coronavirus loose. And yes it is the China virus, because it came out of Wuhan, no matter how hard the dubious Dr Tedross of the questionable World Health Organisation (WHO) may try to mask the truth. Because had there been anything else to it, both China and Tedross would have been shouting that out from the rooftop a long time ago. Yet, barring a few Indian media houses, WION’s Gravitas being one, NewsFileOnline.in being another, the country wouldn’t call the China virus the China virus, or at best, the Wuhan virus. Instead even as Indians—nearly 12,000 so far—died of the virus unleashed upon the earth and this country by China, India was busy buying PPE kits and corona test kits from China.

Some Indian businesses working out of China didn’t talk of moving out—unlike some of the biggest businesses of the world, they just about sold out. On social media and elsewhere, as many spoke about the need to abandon Chinese goods and services, others revelled in telling them how indispensable anything Chinese was—that you may abandon Tik Tok but your phone is still Chinese.

None of these people for once would consider that India went from having no Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, to dole acceptors from China, to becoming the world’s second largest producer of PPE kits, in just two months. That is how much we believe in ourselves and respect our countrymen— or rather don’t.

Some esteemed Indian journalists known to have a view on everything under the sun demeaningly called the initial “skirmishes” along the LAC “khit pit”, a kind of love quarrel between husband and wife.  Some panelists on television shows were, rather shamelessly, busy telling the country how we need to treat Nepal with kid gloves, after that country went ahead and amended its constitution claiming Indian territory. And yet the same lot had nothing to say when a simple “untenable claims cannot be considered” line by the Indian government shut up Nepal.

Videos abound of Indian soldiers on the LAC pushing back Chinese soldiers, talking to them about “diplomatic” issues that require diplomatic settlements, a sad picture of soldiers being turned into public relations agents of an inept system that lacked the courage to take the bull—in this case the so-called dragon—by its horns.

This country perhaps has shuddered at the thought of 1962. What happened two nights ago at Galwan now is more about 1967, 1971 and Kargil. The Chinese Aggression is a thing of the past.

All this while, as the high and mighty spoke of diplomacy and phased de-escalation, protest in a country of 1.38 billion came from small communities: from the Arunachalis who have seen Chinese brutality up close in 1962, the Nepalis of the Northeast who condemned the actions of Nepal, Tibetans who India never speaks up for.

Some who didn’t believe in the man behind the gun spoke of how India needed to “wriggle” out of the stand-off diplomatically. Point is you do not wriggle out of anything when you have dead comrades  on your hands—that’s when you stand your ground and fight, risking all you have; that’s what these soldiers did.

We could have treated them better though. Right through the day yesterday, the Internet was abuzz with reports that the toll in the ‘skirmish’ the night before last at Galwan was not three but many more. An army colonel, possibly retired, cried himself hoarse asking “why the hell” the Prime Minister wasn’t coming clear on how many soldiers had died fighting for their country. The confirmation came at 10.57pm, when the Army PRO told us what the toll was —– 20.

Going ballistic over a cricket match with Pakistan isn’t exactly patriotism—standing by our soldiers and not letting them get killed on the border is. Unlike what the situation was earlier, this country has over the past years built border roads, and reinforced its borders, much to China’s discomfort. Young men have then stood guard so that the country can sleep safe—and Tik Tok.

Fallen soldiers come home wrapped in the national flag of their country, having made the ultimate sacrifice, having embraced martyrdom. They ought not to come back home shrouded in backdoor diplomacy and secrecy, nameless and unknown. As for all of those who attempted to downplay everything tense in Indo-Chinese “relations” over the past months, please know you have blood on your hands as well.

Founder Editor... Formerly resident editor (east and northeast) with The Telegraph, editor (Assamese) with The Sunday Indian, has worked with India Today, National Herald and The Sentinel. Has written for India Today Travel Plus, Darpan, The Pioneer, Hindustan Times online edition, The Times of India. Lyricist and singer, enjoys composing, photography, being a chef and travelling