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An Undertaker's Procession for the Olympic Flame

That is what the Chinese wanted.

That is what the Government of India gave to them.

It did well to give to them what they wanted— an undertaker’s procession for the Olympic Flame as it passed through New Delhi on April 17, 2008.

This is not the first time the world is going to have an Olympics. This will not be the last time.

This is not the first time before the Olympics that the flame lit in Olympia in Greece has been taken through different countries—- to give the people of those countries the happy feeling of being associated with the Games.

And this will not be the last time.

But, what the world is going to have in Beijing in August is an Olympics with a difference.

What the world has been having since the flame was lit in Olympia is a flame with a difference.

What New Delhi had on April 17 was not a flame of joy, brotherhood and harmony, which would make the world look forward to the Games in August.

It was a flame of sorrow, shock, disgust and troubled conscience which made us dread the advent of August.

Sorrow over the death of over a hundred Tibetans in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China since March 10—-for no other reason than that they demanded their rights in their homeland.

Shock over the ruthless manner in which the Chinese troops killed the Tibetans.

Disgust over the so-called Patriotic Re-education campaign unleashed by the Neo Red Guards and over the vilification campaign against the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan youth, who rose in revolt.

A shocked conscience over the world’s inability to go to their rescue.

When an Olympic flame is taken through a city, people in their hundreds of thousands flock to see it.

They cherish memories of the occasion so that they can tell their children and grand-children in the years to come that they were the proud spectators of the flame being taken across the world.

Hardly anybody came to see the flame in Delhi except some Government servants, staff of the Chinese Embassy and communists and their fellow-travellers.

One did not have people in their hundreds of thousands.

Instead, one had policemen and para-military forces in their thousands.

More than were deployed for the visit of President George Bush in March 2006 and for the visit of President Hu Jintao in November, 2006.

The flame came to Delhi in stealth, was taken through the city in a procession that resembled the procession to a graveyard and quickly taken out of Delhi to Bangkok.

Planes diverted from Delhi, traffic dislocated, all Tibetans kept under surveillance like the Chinese keep them In Tibet.

And what did the Chinese leaders and officials tell their people through their Government-controlled media.

The flame was received and witnessed by the Indian people in their thousands, who shouted slogans in support of the Olympics and the dearly-loved Chinese people.

China has a Government and a party, which do not have the courage to face the truth.

And, which do not have the courage to tell the truth to their people.

China is a great country with a glorious civilisation. Its people definitely deserve a Government of which they can be proud and which is loved by all sections of their own people.

It is time for the Chinese people to join hands with each other to strive for such a Government. (19-4-08)

(The writer, Mr.B.Raman, 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: )

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