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India: The Olympic Torch and Tibet

Categories: South Asia, India, Arts & Culture, Human Rights, International Relations, Sport

It seems like Tibet refuses to go away from people's mind. Tibet continues to be the dominant topic of conversation and is clearly gathering a lot of public support, especially in virtual India. Baichung Bhutia, India's well-known football player has refused to carry the Olympic torch when it comes to India in mid-April. Bhutia is a Buddhist from the Indian state of Sikkim. Bhutia told the Indian media that this was his way of standing up for the people of Tibet, and clearly Bhutia's stance has resonated with many Indian bloggers.

Sushbh of Insanity Rediscovered [1] writes that he is very pround of Bhutia's stance on Tibet and not carrying the Olympic torch, while Sudharshan [2] writes that he does not care if the Indian football team makes it the world cup final, and is very proud of Bhutia's decision. Patrix [3] writes that finally we have an Indian celebrity who can stand up to China.

However Avinash [4] differs and writes that Tibet should be discussed but now now since the Olympics is a global event. What Avinash is pointing out in his blog is that Tibet and Beijing Olympics issues need to be de-coupled.

While Bhutia has decided not to carry the torch, Bollywood actor Aamir Khan announced that he will be part of the Olympic torch. To say that Aamir Khan's decision to carry the Olympic torch has created a buzz would be a bit of an understatement. Khan,(probably the only Bollywood actor with a blog) writes about his decision [5] to carry the Olympic torch:

“I categorically state that I am absolutely against any form of violence, and certainly I am deeply upset whenever the basic rights of human beings are violated anywhere in the world.”

He adds:

“I request those of you who have asked me to stay away from the Olympic Torch Relay to understand that when I do run with the torch on the 17th of April it is not in support of China. In fact it will be with a prayer in my heart for the people of Tibet, and indeed for all people across the world who are victims of human rights violations.”

Khan's blog post has created quite a bit of reaction from the bloggers. Raman's Strategic Analysis [6] in his open letter to Aamir Khan writes:

“You have millions of admirers as an artist all over the world. You will continue to have millions of admirers what ever be your final decision. But many of them will have feelings of vacuum in their hearts over your failure to distinguish between the right and the wrong.”

Prasanna Vishwanathan of Benched@Bangalored [7] finds Khan's explanation “convoluted” and writes:

“(Khan) he cannot camouflage the fact that commercial consideration motivates his decisions rather than any lofty intentions .Or it could well be that oppression in Iraq or Afghanistan by US could or NBA agitatation against Modi government is what strikes emotional chord in Aamir Khan's heart.The selective heart-bledding has been consistent hallmark of left liberal intelligenstia.”