Remembering you... Amma...

Its two years today since you left us, after a battle of 3 years.. leaving us in dark, the void yet to be filled. Each moment a memory, still afresh in mind.

Rather than sit and brood over the loss, I decided to vent my feelings out in words.. the words becoming poems, you made me a poet... and I am on a mission..

"Let me kiss you" a poem I had written based on what I saw in you, a poem on the different phases of a Cancer patient's life, a dedication to you and million others, is now translated to many languages including #Spanish, #German, #Portuguese, #Arabic, #Hungarian, #Hindi, #Tamil, #Malayalam and many more to come. Strangers now friends who readily helped me in this mission by putting in hours to bring the translation alive. I am on a mission, to translate the poem to as many languages as possible, and art forms. A friend helped me recreate the poem in a canvas, the Angel guides me from my room's wall.
I feel your guiding force even today...

Shri Narendra Modi was kind enough to encourage me on this mission and wrote to me condoling and encouraging me on my mission...

An International documentary, The Legacy of Menla ( in which I have shared your story, is soon to be released... I want the world to know.. your life...

I want the memories to be alive.. 'Seasons' thoughts in poetry was released this day, last year, at Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences & Research Centre, Kochi, the place where you left us behind, two years back. My mentors, Sethu Das Sir ( and Dr. Dinesh M, ( encouraged me and helped me in this. Words are not enough to thank Sona Ma'am( and Geemol Ma'am, Amrita Hospital.

Seasons is now a part of many people's library including Buddhist Monasteries, Doctors, Member of Parliament, Supreme Court Judges, Business school Library, Activists and poem lovers. And the mission continues...

I find solace volunteering in places you have been. #Wellbeing camps ( helped me find a new meaning in my life, now a part of me.

You made me know #Tibet, and now #FreeTibet is a cause close to me. Thousands of people living in a land which is not theirs, and denied of land which is theirs...

I am indebted to many who were with us in the last moments, and to my colleagues at work Bijeesh Kuttikrishnan and Rakesh Er who were with me in the last moments, and who are still with me.

You guide me in each step of my life, and each stepping stone is a tribute to you...

Indian Air Force Reportedly Issues Security Warning Against Xiaomi Products
by , October 24, 2014xiaomi_phones_on_display_reuters.jpg

Is using a Xiaomi smartphone a security risk? The Indian Air Force (IAF) seems to think so. In a circular apparently distributed by the IAF to its personnel and their families, it advises against using handsets made by the Chinese company, according to a recent report. Xiaomi is no stranger to allegations of spying on its users - in July, a security firm had reported that Xiaomi phones were pre-loaded with software to spy on you.

Xiaomi assured users that this was not the case and recently, the company has also shifted some smartphone data out of China because of these privacy concerns.
The report about the IAF states that smartphones and notebooks made by Xiaomi have been found to send users' private data to servers in Beijing. This is strange considering that Xiaomi does not have any laptops yet - there are rumours that the company will release one, but none have been released so far. The report also mentions F-secure's findings that Xiaomi phones were forwarding information to Beijing. This does not take into account a later report by F-secure, which noted that the security flaws had been plugged.
According to Hugo Barra's blog post on Google+, data from non-Chinese users will be moved to Amazon servers in the United States and data centres in Singapore. Although there is no indication to suggest that the announcement about Xiaomi moving its data centres out of China is connected to the IAF circular, this move is nonetheless very important for it as it grows.
While it is frequently referred to as the Apple of China, Xiaomi's overseas growth is only beginning. Having the data centres in other parts of the world will address security concerns and lead to speedier services for customers around the world as well. Whether the IAF will issue a follow up telling its members that they can go ahead and buy the phone even after these changes is another matter.

Referendum in Scotland - What about Tibet?

Scotland has fought for their right and self-determined their future. But Tibet is still being deprived of this right. Not only have these two peoples a striking number of parallelisms of national destiny, but they also share family ties.George Bogle, the Scottish diplomat, was the first non-missionary Europeans in Tibet. In 1774 he stayed for 6 months at the court of the Panchen Lama in Shigatse and had not only cultivated friendly relationship with the formerde facto ruler of Tibet (interim between the 7th and 8th Dalai Lama), but had also had two daughters with the putative sister of his distinguished friend.

55.3% of the 5.3 million Scots have decided on September 18, 2014 to remain in the Union of 1707. The 307-year-old Kingdom of “Great Britain" will continue to exist and hence, together with Northern Ireland the "United Kingdom"of 1801 too. London, the majority of the 64 million subjects of the Kingdom, the EU, the NATO etc are relieved to see this result which they had hoped for but not necessarily anticipated with such clarity.

Nevertheless, the referendum entails legal and strategic implications both at national and international level. London and other capital cities have to face the reality that one reads in the commentary columns: Nothing will remain the same. Scotland will get the promised rights, followed by Wales and Northern Ireland. The border regions of England will also claim the same because they not only feel that they are being neglected by London, they now are afraid of falling behind Scotland and possibly behind Wales and Northern Ireland as well.

Implications are unavoidable for both Europe and the world. The Catalonians, visible everywhere with their flag during the referendum, Flanders and South Tyrols in Europe as well as other disenfranchised peoples and nations around the world will now demand independence, to get at the end at least more autonomy rights, because this is the cry of this referendum.

London did not try to stop the Scottish Parliament's decision to hold a referendum in 2014, on the one hand it wanted to respect the democratic rights of the people, on the other hand with less than 20% for independence,London felt itself in safety. As the "Yes-Vote" gradually caught up, and just before the election the opinion poll threatened to change, there was panic in London and the leaders of the three political parties promised the Scotsmore rights if they would support "No-Vote".

Tibet should follow the path of Scotland and push through a referendum. The right to self-determination is indivisible and the right of every people. The UN General Assembly in its resolution 1723 (XVI) on 12.20.1961 has clearly recognised the right of the Tibetan people to self-determination. The International Commission of Jurists has delineated in their study of 1997, who will be entitled to participate in the referendum.

The Scottish referendum shows the fatality of the Policy of the Middle Way of Dharamsala. Without Beijing's quid pro quo Dharamsala is increasingly deviating from his just demand, which has at best frustrated active Tibetans andweakened the freedom struggle. The panic reaction of London shortly before the vote is a lesson for rethinking.Attention is now directed to Dharamsala

(Translated into English from German by Tsewang Norbu, author of the commentary)
Source: Brennpunkt TIBET 4/2014, the Magazine of the Tibet Initiative Deutschland e.V. to be published by the end of October 2014)

"Keep dictators away from India's sacred places" (Friends of Tibet Protest Note, September 17, 2014)

MEDIA RELEASE (Sept 17, 2014)

Friends of Tibet: People's Movement for an Independent Tibet


Ahmedabad: Tibetan poet, writer and activist Tenzin Tsundue was arrested on September 17, 2014 by the Indian security forces from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India from where Mahatma Gandhi started his historic and revolutionary Salt March of 1930. The high-profile Tibetan activist who has a track record of breaking VVIP-security of visiting Chinese dignitaries once again succeeded in protesting the visit of President of People's Republic of China Xi Jinping who is also the Chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission. The whereabouts of Tenzin Tsundue continues to remain unknown.

Winner of Outlook-Picador Award for Non-Fiction in 2001, Tenzin Tsundue joined Friends of Tibet in 1999 as its General Secretary. He caught the international media attention in January 2002 when he climbed the scaffolding outside Oberoi Towers in Mumbai where Zhu Rongji, the then Chinese Premier was addressing a gathering of Indian industrialists. Tsundue displayed a banner saying "Free Tibet" and the outlawed Tibetan National Flag while shouting pro-Tibet slogans before being arrested by police.

In April 2005 he repeated a similar stunning one-man protest when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was visiting Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore. Standing on top of a 300-foot-high tower at the IISc, he unfurled a "Free Tibet" banner while shouting "Wen Jiabao, you cannot silence us". As a result of his actions, the Indian police ordered a travel ban and Tsundue Tsundue was ordered not to leave the town of Dharamshala, when the Chinese President Hu Jintao visited India in November 2006, preventing him from carrying out another embarrassing protest.

Sethu Das, Founder and President of Friends of Tibet who hailed the protest as "one of the most important non-violent actions at Sabarmati Ashram ever since Mahatma Gandhi left the Ashram in 1930" alleged that "Being the Conscience Keepers of Mahatma Gandhi, it was an unpardonable mistake from Sabarmati Ashram authorities, which comprises of senior Gandhians and intellectuals, to join the side of the executioners, by welcoming and hosting Xi Jinping, popularly known as Asian Dictator." He also demanded an unconditional apology from the Sabarmati Ashram authorities to the nation "for surrendering nation’s self-respect and for allowing a war criminal on Ashram’s soil, a place Gandhiji often remarked as “the right place for activities to carry on the search for Truth and develop Fearlessness.”

Friends of Tibet believes that Mahatma always stood against war mongers and dictators who are waging wars against ordinary masses across the world. This is not the first time India's sacred places were kept open to military dictators and war criminals. In March 2006, Rajya Sabha witnessed a massive clash between the members of the Indian National Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over disrespect to Mahatma Gandhi whose Samadhi at Rajghat was kept open to the sniffer dogs of President of the United States George W Bush, who happened to be the architect of the Iraq war. After eight years, the very same opposition eyeing an investment of $100 billion over the next five years gives a red carpet welcome to the head of one of the most brutal military regimes in the world - Xi Jinping, President of the ironically named People's Republic of China. We consider Chinese colonialism and imperialism no less than Nazism.

By allowing Xi Jinping to step into Sabarmati Ashram or Satyagraha Ashram at Ahmedabad, a place chosen by Mahatma Gandhi for his non-violent actions against the British regime, our leaders and Ashram management have betrayed this nation once again. Friends of Tibet believes that doing trade with China will only empower a brutal regime back in Beijing and strengthen its grip over occupied and suppressed regions such as Tibet, East Turkestan, Mongolia etc. We believe that today humanity is more essential than trade with a wrong partner who continues to challenge India’s territorial integrity.

For official statements, contact Friends of Tibet Spokesperson:
Mobile: +91.9400354354 Fax: +91.11.47615142

To know more about China's crimes against humanity:

Friends of Tibet is a people's movement to keep alive the issue of Tibet through direct action. Our activities are aimed at ending China's occupation of Tibet and the suffering of the Tibetan people. Friends of Tibet supports the continued struggle of the Tibetan people for independence.

CSPA-Friends of Tibet Museum/Library to be a reality!, the official website of 'Centre for Social & Political Art' (CSPA) will be inaugurated by Shri Jaspal Singh IPS, former Minister from Gujarat and former and Mayor of Baroda on Saturday, August 9, 2014 at 12 noon at Ashirbhavan, Ernakulam, Kerala.

CSPA, the first collaborative project of Design & People and Sylviander House is a platform to promote collective involvement of every citizen to appreciate rights of all living beings. It enables the marginalised and victimised people to voice their grievances, build awareness and receive empowerment. The Centre rallies creative artists, thinkers and activists under its banner to work against all power structures. It upholds freedom of all arts and creativity. The Centre is a catalyst, inspiring all vulnerable communities to strive against the existing repressive Social & Political order., the website of the institution also be the virtual space for Friends of Tibet Library of Books & Films and Design & People Library of Books. CSPA website allows its members and visitors to choose books and films online without giving a visit to CSPA. Researchers and students from outside Kerala can make use of the ‘Get a Book by Post’ facility. CSPA at Alappuzha consists of two Libraries - 'Friends of Tibet Library of Books and Films' and 'Design & People Library of Books' - developed and maintained by Friends of Tibet and Design & People, two organisations associated with CSPA. The CSPA Library has an extensive collection of books on Art, Design, Society, Politics, Architecture, Human Rights, Photography, Tibet, China, History, Religion, Traditional Medical Systems etc. Library facilities are open to CSPA Associates, Members of CSPA Residency Programmes while memberships are available for individuals and organisations. CSPA will also have a permanent collection of original photograhs of renowned Indian and International Photographers. Some of them are including Angel Lopez Soto (Spain), Brian Harris (Canada), Diane Barker (UK), Jaqueline Meier (Switzerland), John Ackerly (USA), Giulia Francesca Johnson (USA), Lobsang Wangyal (Tibet), Kathryn Culley (USA), Manuela Metelli (Italy), Ken Damy (Italy), Nancy Jo Johnson (USA), Prabir Purkayastha (India), Prabuddha Dasgupta (India), Sonam Zoksang (USA), Suresh Natarajan (India), Vijay Kranti (India) and William Chapman (USA).

CSPA houses rare collections of art and artifacts from Tibet. The Museum section is being made possible with the generous support from Friends of Tibet, a Tibet Support Group and a Member Organisation with CSPA. The Centre also houses original and prints of political cartoons by renowned Indian cartoonists.

All are welcome!

To know more, visit: or call: +91.9995181777, +91.9645817014 
 Fax: +91.11.4761514 Email: Web:

फ्रेन्डस ऑफ तिब्बतपीओ बॉक्स १६६७४मुंबई ४०००५०भारत.Friends of Tibet, PO Box 16674, Mumbai 400050, India.

"Time India woke up to US surveillance" by Hardeep S Puri

THE Indian establishment had been remarkably silent on the comprehensive surveillance to which India, its leaders, political parties, diplomatic representation and its economic entities have been subjected by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US. Salman Khushid’s statement that what was being collected was only ‘metadata’ lead to the inference being drawn that there was some collaborative arrangement between New Delhi and Washington. Whilst the jury is still out on the ‘collaboration’ part of the arrangement, if any, information now available in the public domain, thanks to Edward Snowden, indicates an altogether different and more serious dimension.

Visiting Secretary of State John Kerry was told by Sushma Swaraj on July 31 during the US-India Strategic Dialogue that India had been outraged and that such snooping was unacceptable. Some of the implications of such surveillance for our national security need to be understood.

Within a few weeks of India being elected to the UN Security Council, on 22 December 2010, as India’s PR to the UN, I addressed a communication to the then Foreign Secretary requesting both preventive and countermeasures in the more important offices and conference facilities urgently for protection of in-house discussions/meetings and for the security of our communications. There was not even an acknowledgment of the request made, let alone any action on this written communication carrying the highest classification.

The Snowden revelations and the ‘top secret’ documents released by him have now been collated by Glen Greenwald in his recently released book ‘No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US, Surveillance State’.

A top secret document of August 2010 has the following:
“In late spring 2010, eleven branches across five Product Lines teamed with NSA enablers to provide the most current and accurate information to USUN (United States Mission to the United Nations) and other customers on how UNSC members would vote on the Iran Sanctions Resolution.… SIGINT was key in keeping USUN informed of how the other members of the UNSC would vote.
“…according to USUN, SIGINT ‘helped me to know when the other Permreps [Permanent Representatives] were telling the truth… revealed their real position on sanctions… gave us an upper hand in negotiations… and provided information on various countries’ “red lines”.

Page 146 lists seven programmes, as then being operational against India, four against the Indian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York and three against the Indian Embassy in Washington.

The explanatory notes make interesting reading. The operations against India/UN are codenamed NASHUA, the ones against the Embassy in Washington, OSAGE. More importantly, the following programmes described as ‘Mission’ were being used against Indian establishments in the US: HIGHLANDS (collection from implants), VAGRANT (collection of computer screens), MAGNETIC (sensor collection of magnetic emanations), LIFESAVER (imaging of the hard drive).

Now that the External Affairs Minister has termed the surveillance ‘unacceptable’, it stands to reason that we should ask for a response on whether these programmes are still operative or have been withdrawn and/or whether new surveillance programmes have been introduced.

The collaborative arrangements between the multinational Internet and telecom majors and the NSA of the US should concern us even more.

AT&T has partnered the NSA since 1985. US court records in the class action suit Hepting Vs. NSA are revealing. (Details at Page 102 of a “top secret” slide presentation of the NSA shows AT&T as one of the “80 major global corporations” supporting its missions. Page 103 shows the NSA has a ‘Special Source Operation’ which has a list of three major corporates giving it access to various kinds of telecommunication facilities.
One of the corporates which is part of the “Special Source Operations” has been given the code name “Fairview.” The official document describes FAIRVIEW as a “Corporate partner since 1985 with access to international cables, routers, switches. The partner operates in the US, but has access to information that transits the nation and through its corporate relationships to provide unique access to other telecoms and Internet Service Providers. Aggressively involved in shaping traffic to run signals of interest past our monitors.”

Now, a fit case for ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’. Whilst AT&T is an established collaborator and contractor for the NSA, its India representative for 20 years has managed to join the permanent Joint Committee on International Cooperation and Advocacy (JCICA) under the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). This has been facilitated by an apex Chamber of Commerce.

Protestations that a person associated with AT&T for over 20 years cannot be part of such a sensitive committee have had no effect. He is a member of the committee set up to author the guidelines for the protection of the National Critical Information Infrastructure which will be manned by the NTRO.
I have tried in my own limited way to draw attention to the security implications of some of these issues since I left government in 2013. Snowden’s leaked documents published by Greenwald will hopefully drive home the seriousness of the issues involved. Perhaps we will soon be able to make a determination on whether we were collaborating with or are victims of such surveillance.

(The author, a retired diplomat, was India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and later New York. The views expressed are personal)

2014 World Tibet Day

​World Tibet Day was created with three main goals: first to create an annual worldwide event to help restore essential freedoms for those living in Chinese-occupied Tibet; second to increase awareness of the genocidal threats to the Tibetan people; and third, to celebrate the unique beauty and value of Tibetan culture and thought. Founded in 1998 by Richard Rosenkranz, World Tibet Day has grown into one of the most important events on the Tibetan calendar.

World Tibet Day will be celebrated July 6, 2014, 79th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan people. Friends of Tibet in association with Men-Tsee-Khang, Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute will observe the day at Men-Tsee-Khang, City Apartment, Plot No 21, Sector 16, Kopar Khairaine, New Mumbai 400709 at 10:30am. The program begins with prayers for the long life of HH the Dalai Lama and to all those great warriors died self-immolation inside Tibet. Rohit Singh, Campaigns Coordinator of Friends of Tibet will speak about the "on-going Tibet's struggle for Independence".

All are invited. To know more, contact Friends of Tibet Email: Tel/WhatsApp: +91.9400354354

Art Attack in Tibet (June 17, 2014)

When the obvious signs of protests are beaten to splinters, when all human language of dissent have blown away to dust, when methods of control is far sophisticated than the dissent (that one doesn't understand how even the words you say to yourself are being watched and followed by the state), there is one last communication possible -Art. Tibetans in Tibet under Chinese oppression are challenging the opaque brutality of the Chinese oppression after 55 years of colonial occupation by singing, painting, playing the exotic and just by being the 'orthodox' Tibetan. Tenzin Tsundue, Tibetan poet, writer and activist speaks about this new creative language of the arts attack in Tibet with an audio-video presentation.

Venue: 1 Shanthi Road
Date and time: June 17, 2014 at 6pm
To know more, email: +91.9400354354,

Battalion of Monkeys

China's PLA Air Force creates "Battalion of Monkeys" to protect an airbase near Beijing. See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil!

The air force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China has trained a group of macaques to help protect an air base close to Beijing. These monkeys have been put here to take care of the huge flocks of birds that pose a threat to flights. 
According to China's air force news website, the macaques have been taught to destroy nests in nearby trees and chase away the birds that have become a nuisance during the take-offs and landings of fighter planes in the base whose exact location was not revealed.

The base has used practically every means of tackling the problems of the birds, from firecrackers to scarecrows or even firearms but nothing proved to be as effective as the monkeys which are jokingly referred in military circles as "the Chinese army's new secret weapon". The macaques respond with the obedience of a recruit to the whistles that their trainers use to give them orders and are capable of destroying more than 180 nests close to the base at a rate of around six nests per monkey.

India’s Monuments Men

Manimugdha S Sharma, TNN
The recent Hollywood film Monuments Men depicts the exploits of an army unit which protected and recovered Nazi-looted art. But buried in the pages of history is the story of an Indian Army battalion that discovered and rescued over 200 exquisite pieces of Florentine art at the height of World War II in Italy. In July 1944, the 8th Indian Division, part of the British Eighth Army, was advancing to Florence after the final Battle of Monte Cassino, where the Allies made inroads into German strongholds. They stopped at Tuscany on the south bank of Arno river, where the 1/5 Maratha Light Infantry set up battalion headquarters at the Castello di Montegufoni, a 12th-century palatial property owned by the Sitwells, an English family. (Today it is a heritage hotel.) According to the official regimental history, titled A Saga of Service (A History of 1st Battalion The Maratha Light Infantry, Jangi Paltan 1768 to 1993) authored by late Major General Eustace D'Souza in 1994, it was late July when the Marathas occupied the castle and D'Souza, a second lieutenant, was asked by commanding officer Lt Col DWH Leeming to inspect the castle's sentry posts. While on inspection, D'Souza overheard a soldier giggling and asked him, in Marathi, "Kai zala?" (What's the matter?) The seemingly embarrassed soldier led him down the basement, where the source of his amusement was revealed to be The Birth of Venus, the original 15th century masterpiece by Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. The iconic painting was one among 261 priceless artworks packed into the room. D'Souza recalls alerting the CO, who ordered that the room be heavily guarded. An elderly Italian, present in the castle, revealed that the canvases had been stored there by the Germans, who had occupied the castle until their retreat. The works belonged to the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy. Word was sent to the divisional headquarters south of the Arno and the next day, reputed Scottish writer Eric Linklater and BBC war correspondent Wynford Vaughan Thomas arrived to take a look, accompanied by Indian Army officers and two regimental historians including Captain Unni Nayar (killed in the Korean War). Linklater and Thomas identified most of the artworks, including Botticelli's La Primavera and Coronation of the Virgin, and others by Renaissance masters Giotto di Bondone and Paolo Uccello. In the official history, D'Souza wrote that both Linklater and Thomas profusely thanked the Marathas and that Linklater, who was an assistant editor in The Times of India's Bombay office between 1925 and 1927, even wrote a commendation note in the official visitors' book of the castle and gifted the book to the unit. Stored in the officers' mess of the regimental centre of Maratha Light Infantry in Belgaum, Karnataka, the book is a war trophy of great importance to the regiment even today. "You will find my signatures in the book too, apart from those of Karl Marx, DH Lawrence and Stalin," says Lieutenant General (retd) Vijay Oberoi, former colonel of the regiment who was also vice-chief of staff and director-general of military operations. In Thomas's version of the episode, which came out in the March 4, 1950 issue of the now defunct UK magazine, Everybody's Weekly, he wrote, "...invaluable art treasures of Florence which were discovered in the Castle of Montegufoni, the home of the famous Sitwell family. Among the many priceless paintings saved by the Mahrattas were the great Madonnas of Duccio, Giotto and Cimabue, (works by) Uccello, Lippi, Massacio and Andreas del Sarto, and Botticelli's Coronation of the Virgin." According to D'Souza's account, Thomas and Linklater even suggested that when the artworks were restored to the Uffizi Gallery, they be displayed in a room dedicated to their saviours, titled the 'Maratha Room'. But that never happened. In fact the role the Indian Army played in this rescue work was almost wiped out of the official narrative of the event. While the official history of the three Indian divisions published by His Majesty's Stationery Office in 1946 clearly mentions the Marathas' mission — "...nearing the river (Arno) the Mahrattas turned southeast on a non-military mission to secure the castle of the Chesterfield Sitwells at Montegufoni. Here the priceless art treasures of the Florentine galleries were stored, including Botticelli's Primavera and other of the world's most famous paintings..." — it is Linklater and Thomas who got credit for finding these works. Linklater, whose book The Art of Adventure published in 1947 is acknowledged as the official history of this operation, states they arrived on the scene first and informed the Maratha CO of their discovery. Subsequent versions of that incident, including the 2013 book Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis by Robert M Edsel, the same author who wrote The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History in 2009, credits American Frederick Hartt, one of the Monuments Men, for the rescue and restoration of the artworks. According to Edsel's book, days after the Indian Army had moved out of Tuscany on their march forward to Florence, Hartt arrived at the castle and discovered the artworks. He reportedly maintained vigil over the collection until Florence was liberated by 21st Indian Infantry Brigade in mid-August, 1944. Magnus, eldest son of Eric Linklater and former Scotland editor of The Times, recalls being surprised by the photocopy of the Sitwell visitors' book he was presented with on a visit to the castle. "The inscription on the first page caught my eye: 'Officers present serving with the 1st Bn 5th Mahratta L.I. on 30th July 1944, upon which day this book, the property of the late Sir George Sitwell, was presented as a trophy to the Bn by Major Eric Linklater R.E. — Castle of Montegufoni, Florence.' My father had taken it upon himself to acquire the book as a spoil of war and had presented it to the Indians," says Magnus. While he chose not to comment on who discovered the treasure, he scoffed at Edsel's claim. "Remember, he (Eric Linklater) was there, Robert Edsel wasn't. And Major General Eustace D'Souza of the Indian Army was undoubtedly there!" he says, dismissing the 2013 book as "Typical American!"

Is new Tibetan leader a threat to India?

(Feb 21, 2014 by Maurya Moynihan, The Asian Age)
Ever since Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru offered sanctuary to the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees in 1959, India has reaped a moral and strategic benefit from this act of humanitarian service. But with the Dalai Lama’s retirement from politics and the installation of Lobsang Sangay as the new Tibetan political leader in Dharamsala, the strong ties between India and the Tibetan government in exile could now be at risk. Mr Sangay has signalled a strange new willingness to cast his lot with China, which raises serious questions about his commitment to India’s security.

India has earned global admiration for providing a home in exile to Tibetans. India’s global “soft power” is enhanced by hosting the Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate whom many consider the living heir to Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of practising non-violence, ahimsa, and who calls himself a “son of India”. In the past 54 years, many Tibetan refugees have served in the Indian military, in the Bangladesh War of Independence and building roads that secure India’s northern borders. The presence in India of the heads of all four branches of Tibetan Buddhism provides incalculable benefits in sensitive regions like Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Ladakh. And the presence of loyal, pro-India Tibetan exiles challenges China’s ability to threaten India from a secure position in Tibet.

But this beneficial relationship is now at risk from changes instituted by Lobsang Sangay. Mr Sang-ay has bewildered many long-time Tibet supporters by announcing policies that are alarmingly pro-Beijing, and threaten to take the entire Tibetan exile cause with it. Never mind that Mr Sangay was born, raised and educated in India, thanks to the Indian government.
At a speech on May 8, 2013 at the Council on Foreign Relations, a prestigious Washington DC think tank, Mr Sangay announced that henceforth Tibetans would abandon the goal of democracy for Tibet, and instead accept Chinese Communist Party rule in its “present structure”. Most troubling for India’s security, when asked about Chinese military border incursions into India, from Tibet, he declared that he supported China in this matter, giving China full “discretion” in invading Indian territory.

What is driving Mr Sangay’s embrace of Beijing?

The new Tibetan leader was an obscure Harvard researcher before capturing a majority of Tibetan exile votes in 2011, beating two established opponents by running an uncharacteristically aggressive campaign. On a researcher’s salary, it is still a mystery how he paid for his jetsetting campaign, or was able to suddenly pay off a $227,000 home loan on July 29, 2011, just days before his inauguration.

Several sources have noted that Mr Sangay had a close and continuous relationship (including joint travel) at Harvard with Hu Xiaojiang, president of a Chinese students and scholars association with ties to Chinese intelligence services. In 2011, Mr Sangay also admitted – after several years of denials – that he used an “Overseas Chinese National” passport to travel to Beijing on an academic junket in 2005.

It is plausible that these matters can be explained away, but he fact remains that Mr Sangay is trying to push policies that legitimise the Chinese Communist Party, and support the Chinese military’s ability to threaten India. India is facing a bellicose China that is increasingly willing to rattle its sabres from the Himalayas to the East China Sea. China continues to occupy Aksai Chin, daily sends armed incursions into Indian territory, and has plans to divert the Brahmaputra and Tibet’s other great rivers to a parched and polluted China. At a time like this, democratic India’s national security is threatened when this new and almost unknown Tibetan politician embraces China’s unlimited right to militarise Tibet.

On the contrary, India needs Tibetan allies who stand with democracy, and who challenge China’s ability to turn Tibet into a military base that threatens India. It is time for the Intelligence Bureau and other security agencies to question Mr Sangay on the meaning of his statements, as well as the source of his unexplained funding. And it is time to reinvigorate the mutually beneficial Indo-Tibetan relationship that Mr Sangay has threatened to destabilise, in the face of the increasing threat from China.

Maura Moynihan is a journalist and Tibet analyst based in New York City.

"1962 Debacle and Henderson Brooks Report: Part I"

Neville Maxwell has put part of Henderson Brooks Report on the internet generating clamour to make this report public. Governments, including that of BJP, have been shying away from de-classifying the report. On government’s instructions, Henderson Brooks inquiry was ordered by the then Army Chief and was required to look only into those aspects of the debacle that exclusively pertained to the military. Thus its scope was extremely limited and therefore the report essentially covers the failures related to the military with little reference to the political direction. No inquiry into the failures at the political level was undertaken. As for military’s part in this sad chapter, there is very little which is not already known and to that end, the report has little value at this point of time.

Undoubtedly, there were failures in the military, both at the higher command in Delhi and those in the field. Nehru’s abrasive, curt and sometimes rude manner of dealing with the military’s higher command at Delhi had resulted in his getting no firm military advise on strategic issues related to India-Tibet border or for that matter on any of the other important issues plaguing the forces. Nehru displayed open disdain for the military. When the issue of suitably arming the army was raised with him, he famously retorted that military, if required, should be prepared to fight with lathies ( sticks. )

Deliberate efforts, more as a policy, were adopted, not to reduce important decisions etc, in writing. Jawaharlal’s attitude is best showcased when he told the President that, ‘when he comes across any information, he should not put it in writing; instead he should send for him and talk it over’. In response the President in a letter dated18 December 1959, tells Nehru, “------Your suggestion that I should send for you and speak to you ……… I am afraid this will stultify me in performing my constitutional duty ……….” Nehru expresses anxiety that, ‘information should not get into wrong hands.’ That perhaps, in a nutshell, explains why full records of the ‘goings-on’ in the government, leading upto and during the 1962 war, were not kept and where kept, were never made public. However, gleaning through the records in the two houses of Parliament, internal notings between the PMO and Ministry of External Affairs, and the correspondence with India’s Ambassador in Peking and some internal notings on files, do bring out his propensity towards sustained self-deception. 

Even when in 1949, China made clear its intentions to ‘liberate’ Tibet, he kept maintaining that invasion of Tibet was most unlikely. In a note to Ministry of External affairs, Nehru records, ‘there is practically no chance of any military danger to India arising from any possible change in Tibet.’ This one sentence brings out Nehru’s perception of security issue of such strategic importance. Yet on 10 September 1949, Nehru records in a note to finance minister that China may invade Tibet in a year or so, and that Tibet will not be able to resist the invasion.’ On development of roads along the border, in one part he tells the FM not to economize on expenditure and in the same note he states that we can proceed relatively slowly, as we have time. Arun Shourie puts it thus, ‘Nehru was preoccupied with, ‘bigger issues’; that is saving the world from crises which he believes were imminent.’

Blind to the developing situation in Tibet, Nehru fervently champions China’s case for admitting it in the U N, in Commonwealth, everywhere. A Tibetan delegation come to meet Nehru and he keeps them waiting for months as he claims to be occupied with world affairs. He finally meets this delegation on 8 September1950, and advises it to proceed to Peking and obtain assurances from the Chinese for maintaining Tibet’s autonomy. On the one hand Nehru paid no heed to Sardar Patel’s warning of China’s intentions, concentration of Chinese forces for an onslaught on Tibet, on the other he kept giving credence to Ambassador Panikkar’s false sense of confidence and intelligence Czar Mullik’s assurances that China would want to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means. What he meant by suzerainty, for China it meant sovereignty. This pattern of self-deception continues till the very outbreak of hostilities. All warnings of developments in Tibet and Chinese intentions do not register with him. He adopts an attitude of, ‘ hear no evil - speak no evil.’ All this while military’s strength is being reduced and no replacement of obsolete weapons is undertaken, nor infrastructure along the Tibet border developed. Self deception, ambiguity, ambivalence and status quo persists, till the very end, while ominous clouds build up along the Indo-Tibet border. 
Author: Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (Retd)

Friends of Tibet (TN) Press Release

Chennai, Thu, March 20, 2014

Background: More than a million Tibetans have died as a direct result of the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet. Today, it is hard to come across a Tibetan family that has not had at least one member imprisoned or killed by the Chinese regime. These facts speak volumes about the 'liberation' and the 'democratic reform' China claims to have brought to Tibet. Independent Tibet was certainly not an embodiment of perfect human society. But it was, by no means, nearly as tyrannical as it is today under Chinese rule. Following the Chinese invasion, the whole of Tibet has been turned into a vast network of prisons and labour camps.

Programme: Friends of Tibet (Chennai) is organising an interactive session and discussion on the topic “Tibet: Present Scenario and Future Outlook" on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. The prominent speakers of this programme include  Shri Tsewang Dorjee (Researcher, Dept of Political Science, Madras university), Prof Dr Suresh Maria Selvam (Vellore Institute of Technology, TN), Dr Radhika and Shri L Rasheed. The discussion will take place at The venue of the programme is at: Benhur Hall, 5 Buddha Street, Rangarajapuram, Chennai 600024 at 6pm.  

The discussion will be moderated by Shri Michael Hubert, Chairperson, Friends of Tibet (Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry region).  
All are cordially invited. Entrance is free for all.  

Media contact:  Michael Hubert  
Mobile: +91.9962430097 Email: 

Friends of Tibet is a people's movement to keep alive the issue of Tibet through direct action. Our activities are aimed at ending China's occupation of Tibet and the suffering of the Tibetan people. Friends of Tibet supports the continued struggle of the Tibetan people for independence. Friends of Tibet is also one of the principal organisers of World Tibet Day around the world. To know more, visit:

1962 War Report

When Nehru stepped on the Dragon's tail

1962 war report: When Nehru stepped on the Dragon's tail
Jawaharlal Nehru with Army men at Charduar, Nov 1962 (Pic: Ministry of Defence)
The conventional narrative in India about the 1962 war has largely revolved around portraying the Chinese as the unbridled "aggressors", who ripped apart the nascent "Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai" construct forever. The reality is slightly different.

True, China was nibbling away at what India perceived to be its territory both in Ladakh and North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), as Arunachal Pradesh was then called, to consolidate its hold on Tibet. But what provoked Mao-led China to launch a full-blown military invasion into India on October 20, 1962 was the Nehru government's ill-conceived and poorly executed Forward Policy, set in motion almost a year ago in November-December 1961.

Already smarting from the Dalai Lama's escape to India in early 1959 and the bitter exchanges over the Mc-Mahon Line, which it considered to be a "legacy of British imperialism", China decided to teach India "a lesson" it would never forget through the one-month war. The Henderson Brooks-P S Bhagat report on the 1962 military debacle, kept firmly under lock and key by the Indian government for the last 50 years, makes it clear the "unsound" Forward Policy — directing Indian troops to patrol, "show the flag" and establish posts "as far forward as possible" from the then existing positions —"precipitated matters", sources say.

The sources, who have accessed the classified report, say the ill-timed Forward Policy "certainly increased the chances of conflict" at a time when India was militarily ill-prepared in Ladakh and NEFA, with China much better placed in terms of forces, equipment and logistics in both the sectors.

The report apparently holds that the Forward Policy was based on the "flawed premise", primarily driven by the then all-powerful Intelligence Bureau director B N Mullik, that "the Chinese would not react to our establishing new posts and that they were not likely to use force against any of our posts even if they are in a position to do so". This gravely erroneous assumption, given credence by a complicit Army headquarters despite being in direct contrast to an earlier military intelligence "appreciation" that the Chinese "would resist by force any attempts to take back territory held by them", percolated down to all levels of command to usher in "a sense of false complacency".

What compounded matters was the "appalling" and "disastrous" military leadership and its decision-making, ignoring the advice of commanders on the spot. First, the Army headquarters paid no heed to the quantum of forces required to implement the Forward Policy. Both Ladakh and NEFA had "a minimum requirement" of an additional infantry division (over 12,000 troops) each, with necessary airlift and logistical backing, to somewhat re-address the imbalance with China, as had been reinforced by war games conducted earlier in 1960.

But no fresh induction of troops ever materialized. So, the report reportedly notes, while the Forward Policy may have been "politically desirable", the Army simply did not have the wherewithal to implement it. The Western Command, for instance, had held that the Forward Policy should be kept "in abeyance" till there were enough Indian troops in Ladakh and that China should not be "provoked" into an armed clash.

But the Army HQ disregarded all this. Neither did it strengthen Ladakh, nor reduce tensions with China. With the "probes forward'' underway, the Army established 60 posts in sectors like Demchok, Chushul, Daulat Beg Oldi, Changla and Rezengla of Ladakh by July 1962, further stretching its already meagre resources there. Many of these "very weak, far-flung and uncoordinated" posts had barely 10 soldiers each.

Similar was the story in NEFA. Instead of strengthening the "defence line", forces were frittered away in "penny-packets" in forward areas. Tawang, for instance, had just a depleted brigade, while China had two divisions in the sector. Similarly, Bomdila had only one battalion.

Thus, as in Ladakh, in NEFA too, the Army was hardly in a position to adopt the Forward Policy. That it was adopted proved that the "higher direction of war" was "faulty", based as it was more on preconceived notions that China would not react rather than sound military judgment, say sources.

React the Chinese certainly did. Drafted by then commander of the Jalandhar-based 11 Corps Lt-Gen T B Henderson Brooks, who was assisted by Brigadier P S Bhagat, this "operational review" details at great length how the outnumbered and out-gunned Indian Army was first complacent, then collapsed and finally panicked and fled under the Chinese onslaught.

The report's mandate was restricted to reviewing the Army operations but the covering note on it by Gen J N Chaudhari, who took over as Army chief after the war, did criticise then defence minister V K Krishna Menon's continuous meddling in military matters. The report itself is sharply critical of the role played by Lt-General B M Kaul — a distant relative of Nehru and Menon's favourite — first as chief of general staff at the Army headquarters and then as commander of the hastily raised IV Corps at Tezpur just before the Chinese invasion. The report holds that the "lapses'' by Lt-Gen Kaul and his "hand-picked officers" were "inexcusable" and "heinous", say sources, adding they should not have allowed themselves to be "pushed" into a military adventure without requisite forces and proper planning.

The 4th Infantry Division in NEFA, for instance, was neither militarily prepared nor mentally adjusted to fight the Chinese. When the Chinese troops reached its gate, there was total confusion that ultimately ended in panic and flight. "Senior commanders" — like the 4th Infantry Division commander Major-General A S Pathania in NEFA — "let down the units" under their command, held the report.