Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeAsiaPM Modi set to enter Guinness world records

PM Modi set to enter Guinness world records

By M K Bhadrakumar

Mongolia’s apology to Beijing and its promise never again to allow the Dalai Lama to set foot on its soil is in reality a slap on India’s face if there is such a thing possible to convey human emotions in international diplomacy. The fact of the matter is that it all began with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Ulaanbaatar in May last year. Modi flew into Ulaanbaatar from China and the Mongolians could make out that he was defiantly marking territory in China’s backyard. (See my blog Mongols expect an Indian rescue mission.) After watching Modi’s flamboyant gait, the Mongolians naturally felt emboldened to challenge China. One look at the map would have shown them that it was idiotic to regard India as a strategic partner to hedge against China. Perhaps, credit must be given to Modi that he made the Mongolians believe that he is the perfect counterweight they have been looking for all through ages ever since the time of Genghis Khan to balance China.

Equally, can it be from the Indians that the Mongolians got the weird idea to invite the Dalai Lama? Such a proposition is quite plausible, too. For the Mongols, Buddhism is something felt in the blood and felt along the heart, and they simply couldn’t have regarded Dalai Lama as a diplomatic tool to spite China. Be that as it may, the intriguing thing today is the Mongolian decision to spurn the Indian offer to its ‘third neighbour’ and ‘spiritual neighbour’, to use the words of the MEA spokesman Vkas Swarup, “to work with Mongolian people in this time of their difficulty.”

The only explanation possible is that the Mongolians by now have a fair idea of the Indian character and take us to be a nation of vacuous fellows who talk big but do not deliver. After all, the one billion dollar line of credit Modi promised the Mongolian leadership 18 months ago is still to be disbursed. At stake for the Mongolians in all this fracas with China is the $4.2 billion aid package from Beijing that was in the final stages of negotiation when the Dalai Lama dropped by (November 18-23) and all hell broke loose. Simply put, the Mongolians have estimated that the bird in hand is worth two in Modi’s bush. This time around, they read the tea leaves correctly and understood that Beijing expected them to keep the Indians at arm’s length.

Of course, Beijing lost no time to accept the abject apology rendered by the Mongolian Foreign Minister Tsend Munkh-Orgil for the awful mistake they made. Munkh-Orgil effectively admitted that it was sheer naivety to conceive the visit of the Dalai Lama in the name of religion. He said explicitly the Dalai Lama will not be allowed to visit Mongolia in the future. Fortunately, Beijing kept India out of the mutual acrimony with Ulaanbaatar. It appears that Beijing is ending up as the ‘winner’. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s comment on Wednesday reflects the keenness to move on: The Chinese side sets store by the explicit statement made by the Mongolian Foreign Minister. Tibet-related issues concern China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and bear on China’s core interests.

China’s position on Tibet-related issues is resolute and clear. It is hoped that the Mongolian side will learn lessons from this issue, truly respect China’s core interests, honor its commitment and strive to improve China-Mongolia relations. Most certainly, the Dalai Lama doesn’t emerge from the sordid episode looking good. There should have been greater discretion on his part, too, instead of following Modi’s footfalls.

But the real winner here is, perhaps, Modi himself. Modi was the first-ever Indian prime minister to set foot on Mongolia. Now, he may well end up as the only Indian prime minister to have seen Ulaanbaatar. His visit could make an entry in the Guinness World Records. For, it is simply unthinkable that another Indian prime minister would have the gumption to show his face in the steppes after what the Modi government did to the friendly Mongolian nation  leading them up the garden path and then scooting when the push came to shove with their Chinese neighbours and benefactors.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Most Popular