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Here come the free trippers

Sir — Since there is no guarantee these days that being a chief minister would ensure a few foreign trips, all expenses paid, it is a far better idea to aspire to kinship of Union ministers, particularly the prime minister. While the trips to the United States of America and Canada respectively of Ashok Gehlot, the Rajasthan chief minister, and Digvijay Singh, the Madhya Pradesh chief minister, have been refused clearance by the foreign ministry, the prime minister was spotted sight-seeing in China, ably accompanied by his foster-daughter, and her husband and daughter (“Focus on foreign trip fetters”, June, 27, and photograph on Page 6, June, 26). Of course, the fact both Gehlot and Singh are Congress chief ministers may not be pure coincidence, especially since the Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Mayavati, visited the US with an embarrassingly large entourage around the same time. Cutting down on foreign trips is an excellent idea, but only as long as it applies to all ministers alike.

Yours faithfully,
Sudhangshu Sharma, New Delhi


No longer in the cold

Sir — The prime ministers of India and China have demonstrated great sagacity and statesmanship in signing the comprehensive joint-declaration which will go a long way in lightening the baggage of mistrust and suspicion carried by both the countries over the last few decades. It seems finally to have dawned on the leaders of India and China that “the common interests of the two sides outweigh their differences” (“Atal back with Sikkim hope”, June 28).

India has inherent and developed strengths in certain areas like institutional framework for macro-management of finances, services including software, and research and production of pharmaceuticals. China has acquired skills in infrastructure development and manufacturing, including computer hardware. Both countries can increase cooperation in these areas. With the combined population of the two countries being one-third of the total world population, developing bilateral trade can set future standards for globalization. In implementing its river-linking project, India can take a look at China’s major river projects, for instance, the way the Yangtze Kiang was tamed by constructing the Three Gorges Dam, while water from the river will be diverted to the Hwang Ho through a large number of channels and pumping stations.

Yours faithfully,
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US


Sir — The differences between the visits of our prime minister to China and of the Pakistani president to the United States of America are quite glaring. The Beijing meeting was between two equals, and the goal was to promote harmony, stability, trade and economic co-operation, setting aside past bitternesses. On the other hand, the Camp David meeting was for the greater country to dole out largesse (minus the F-16, of course) to the lesser one in return for favours done.

It is quite natural for neighbours to have divergent views on the common boundaries drawn by former colonizers. The differences can always be resolved through dialogue, taking into account the ground realities, as has been wisely done by India and China on the issues of Sikkim and Tibet. Our prime minister has shown exceptional maturity and farsightedness in mending fences with our northern neighbour. Pakistan has reasons to feel piqued about the new equations emerging in the subcontinent.

Yours faithfully,
Raghubir Singh, Pune


Sir — Ashis Chakrabarti’s “Left and Right find common cradle” (June 27) makes a casual mention of the foundation of the Communist Party of China in 1920 in Shanghai, which indeed was “the cradle of communism in China”. However, it was not Chen Duuxin, but Chen Duxio, who was among the Chinese Marxists who attended the 1920 meeting. There is no reference in the books available to 25 people attending the meeting, as Chakrabarti mentions. It is also not true that only three Russian Bolshevik representatives attended the foundation ceremony. Visinsky led a group and they came in April while the first communist group (not communist party) was set up in August, and records do not indicate that the Russian team was present.

The foundation of the Chinese communist party followed the student movement of May 4, 1919 in Beijing, when over 3,000 students from 13 universities and colleges assembled in the Tiananmen Square and demanded that the Chinese representatives refuse to sign the peace treaty as it would not revive Chinese sovereignty over Shandong province.

Yours faithfully,
Siddhartha Ghosh Dastidar, Calcutta


Sir — At a time when China and India are seeking a closer relationship, especially after the Indian prime minister’s visit to China, it may be pertinent to bring up the Chinese leadership’s stand on Falun Gong, a peaceful spiritual practice. The Jiang Zemin government banned it in July 1999, a surprising decision since earlier governments had supported it. Its increasing popularity probably scared off Zemin and the communist leaders.

I have been practicing Falun Gong for two years now, and the practice has helped me handle my life better. This is why it pains me that all the practitioners of this practice have been thrown into prison, tortured and many of them killed, while thousands have been illegally thrown into forced labour camps.

India ought to realize that behind China’s glittering economy lies a leadership built on the bloodshed of its people. India should have no qualms about raising questions about the abuse of human rights in China.

Yours faithfully,
Suman, Chennai


Sir — Jairam Ramesh in his recent articles is all praise for the emerging closer ties between India and China. He seems to be in agreement with the policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, in contrast to the stand taken by the high command of his party, the Congress, which traditionally finds faults with the NDA’s policies. A developing country like India needs more opposition leaders like Ramesh, who would place democratic principles above party dictum.

Yours faithfully,
C.R. Bhattacharjee, Calcutta


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