Monday, October 23, 2017

google plus
Sunday Special » Kaleidoscope

Posted at: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM; last updated: Jul 16, 2017, 12:14 AM (IST)AS I PLEASE

Nobel laureate’s death does no credit to China

K. Natwar Singh
Focus now shifts to Liu Xiaobo’s wife, who’s under house arrest. What further agonies will be inflicted on her is yet to be seen
The death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo at the age of 61 does no credit to a great country and oldest civilisation on the globe. Mao Tse Tung apparently killed 70 million of his people. So what is one life. What a deplorable attitude!

Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for “serving the cause of human rights.” In 1989, he protested during the Tiananmen Square demonstration and led a team of intellectuals. With them, he drafted Charter 08 in 2008. He was sentenced for 11 years in prison in 2009.

His cancer spread in prison. The authorities kept his serious illness under wraps. He was “released” and sent to a hospital. During his grave illness, his wife was not permitted to talk about his condition. She is under house arrest. What further agonies will be inflicted on her is yet to be seen. Most probably not a word would leak out. Dissent in China is fatal. Liu was not allowed to go to Oslo to receive his Nobel Prize.

During the Cultural Revolution in 1966-76, artist, authors, dancers, dramatists, doctors, professors were hounded, beaten and tens of thousands just disappeared. The most famous novelist, Lao Sheh, author of the best-seller ‘The Rickshaw Boy’ was so ill-treated, that he committed suicide. I met him in Peking on April 21, 1958 at his home. He spoke of Tagore with exceptional warmth. My meeting with him had to be approved by the foreign office. Han Suyin of ‘A Many Splendoured Thing’ fame accompanied me.


Amartya Sen is among the half a dozen Indians who have received the Nobel Prize. Tagore got his Nobel Prize in 1913. The other four are Mother Teresa, CV Raman, Subramaniam Chandrasheker and Har Gobind Khorana. Amartya Sen’s academic career was more than brilliant. We last met in Santiniketan in 2004, when I gave the Vice-Chancellor the replicas of the Nobel Medals of Rabindranath Tagore. The originals had been stolen.  

‘The Argumentative Indian’ is being made into a documentary film on Amartya Sen. The Central Board of Film Certification has asked the filmmaker to delete the following words, “Hindu India”, “Gujarat”, “Hindutva” and “Cow”.

Several newspapers have made fun of the CBFC. One editorial says, “Exactly what does the ‘Hindutva view of India’ have in common with, ‘bastard, saale and haramzade’”. The headline in another editorial is “Censor Board on rampage”. A third one says, “By a thousand cuts”. Another editorial’s heading is “Censoring Sen outrageous.”

Amartya Sen has taken a philosophical view, “even those who do not have an iota of interest in him will now see the documentary”. Amartya Sen is a man of undisputed learning, character, courage and lively charm.


On July 5, 2017, US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts Jr delivered his commencement speech to the graduation at Cardigan Mountain School, New Hampshire. I quote a portion from his unconventional speech:

 “Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you: I will not do that, and I will tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope you will suffer betrayal because that will show you the importance of loyalty…. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will be glad at your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you will be ignored so you know the value of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion. Whether I wish these things or not, they are going to happen. And whether you benefit from or not, will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes… people say ‘be yourself’ because they want you to resist the impulse to confirm to what others want you to be. But you can’t be yourself if you don’t learn to know who you are, and you can’t learn who you are unless you think about it… I have gotten to know many of you young men pretty well, and I know you are good guys. But you are also privileged young men. And if you weren’t privileged when you came here, you are privileged now because you have been here. My advice is: ‘Don’t act like it’”.


Naresh Chandra who passed away a few days ago was a 1956-batch IAS officer. He rose to become Defence Secretary, Home Secretary, Cabinet Secretary, Ambassador to the USA and Governor of Gujarat. It is an unequalled record. He was 81 at the time of his death in Goa. My condolences to his family.


All readers are invited to post comments responsibly. Any messages with foul language or inciting hatred will be deleted. Comments with all capital letters will also be deleted. Readers are encouraged to flag the comments they feel are inappropriate.
The views expressed in the Comments section are of the individuals writing the post. The Tribune does not endorse or support the views in these posts in any manner.
Share On