Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Taking away my toys

When little children quarrel, things often end with one or both of them picking up their toys and going away. The friends of each little squabbler will leave along with him/her, loyalty being less of a principle than their desire to have continued access to the toys.

In what seems to me a new low in international diplomacy, a major Asian country whose name I won't reveal here (hint: it executes more people per year than the rest of the world combined, as per Amartya Sen) has decided to walk out of the forthcoming Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, referring to the rival gang of kids as "clowns". It has taken with itself most of its friends -- who realise clearly that if they don't go along, they may never get to play with those wonderful toys again.

The list of friends is amusing to browse: Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Sudan, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco. How can the poor Norwegians run a credible peace prize ceremony in the absence of so many respected supporters of human rights, freedom and dignity!

For once I felt a patriotic thrill on reading Nobel Committee secretary Mr Lundestad's statement that " `important' countries such as India, South Africa, Brazil and Indonesia" would attend. All of these countries do have their own human rights issues, but given their constitutions, history and present leaders they can play a key constructive role in the struggle for human rights, a defining struggle of the 21st century.


Rahul Basu said...

China, China, China, it's always China. If you had to choose one superpower (I rather not choose any) wouldn't any reasonable person still choose the US (despite its record) than China....but apparently not. We have in India some great admirers.

Wonder if we have a competition, which country would get the maximum votes for being the sole superpower...tough one, that.

vbalki said...

Sorry for the delay. I too was dumbstruck when I read the list of boycotters, and thought to myself that the list alone would be good reason for any thoughtful nation to join the complement of that set. It's good that India didn't succumb to crude pressure tactics under the guise of some mealy-mouthed stuff about "ground realities" or something.

aativas said...

Just wondering how would Indians respond if for example say Arundhati Roy gets such a prize! Or for that matter any name in the public field - everyone has critiques. Chinese whether wrong or right have the right to be patreotic likr Indians!

Sunil Mukhi said...

@aativas: People unpopular with the Indian government have got international prizes in the past -- a good example being Medha Patkar who has among other things a "Human Rights Defender's Award" from Amnesty International (an organisation that the Indian government does not love). However please note that (i) Ms Patkar isn't in jail -- even if she has been harrassed off and on, and (ii) the Indian government has not created the kind of ruckus over her international awards, to my knowledge, that the Chinese government has been doing.

aditi said...

I think there were grave objections to the Nobel-recipient

Sunil Mukhi said...

@aditi: There were objections to Obama's peace prize too, but all the invitee countries (i.e. those with an embassy in Norway) attended it.

I was expressing my discomfort with China's childish, obsessive and controlling behaviour, but I certainly don't ally myself with any particular dissident such as Liu Xiabo or endorse his opinions.