Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Image Courtesy : Rico, www.gimmefever.com

The American President Barack Obama recently accepted the Nobel Peace Prize under much speculation & debate over a wartime president being awarded such an honor. While Obama was gracious enough to accept that he has not done enough yet to deserve the prestigious award, there is no doubting the President's oratory skills, and might I add, honesty. At his acceptance speech, Obama actually defended war. And honestly, I think he did the right thing. Obama professes to be an ardent admirer of Mahatma Gandhi & civil rights leader Martin Luther King and believes in their principles. However, he confesses that "as a head of state sworn to protect & defend my nation, and in a world where war is sometimes necessary, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. A non-violent movement would not have halted Hitler's armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda's leaders to lay down arms".

Don't get me wrong on this one though. No one with a head firmly on their shoulders would propagate war. The President doesn't. I don't. What hit me in Obama's statements, however, was that we live in a world where "war is sometimes necessary". And this is not a new phenomenon at all. Indeed, for all our desires of World peace, we cannot deny the unshakeable position war holds in mankind's past, present and future. If we take our own country, India for example, which has been invaded, ravaged, pillaged and ruled over by outsiders for eons, then probably we would realize the worth of this statement, and of war - the necessary evil.

In essence, why are wars waged? Either to protect or to expand. While wars waged on the lofty heights of ambition are the sorriest excuses of megalomania, who can oppose taking up arms in order to defend your land, your people and your dignity? I'm unapologetic if I attract controversy on this, but I've never really understood the principle of Ahimsa so deeply engraved in our history. I, like many Indians, am not a great fan of Mahatma Gandhi. I agree with his peaceful methods, but difficult times need difficult measures. The situation was surely different back then, and since I have only read about it and have not been a witness to the times, it would be easy for me to oppose the overtly peaceful path paved by Gandhi. However, I often ask myself & my friends, would the British have ruled over us for over 200 years if we had systematically taken up arms against them earlier? Would violence have won India its' freedom earlier than non-violence did? Was Subhash Chandra Bose a disillusioned villain- one who was intent on proving Gandhi wrong? Were Rani Laxmi Bai, Shivaji and the like wrong in fighting for their motherland? Sceptics would say that wars waged by rulers of the pre-British era yielded to nothing, but let's not forget that most of those defeats were party to bad organization, false pride, treachery and technological backwardness. If a burglar were to break into your house, would you back off trying to protect your family because he has a gun? If inevitable, you would engage him at the cost of your own life to protect those who're worth more than anything in the world to you. Let's not forget the pockets of violent resistance through the decades that seeded the British paranoia, and for the absence of them would have meant the invaders running roughshod over the motherland. If organized and well thought, they'd have had a far greater impact. Perhaps then, we'd have celebrated our independence much earlier. Perhaps, we were just lucky to have the British rule over us. I would love to know if turning the other cheek would have worked or would we be choking in a gas chamber had the Nazis ruled us - if it would have driven the Chinese away - If it would have deterred the repeat offender, the blood brother...

Then again, history gives us ample evidence that war is not the remedial solution to all of the world's ills. The American troops in Afghanistan have lost more than they've gained. The terrorists are still at large, and the troops' actions (due to depression, loneliness, hopelessness?) have not endeared them to the local populace either. The Heroes have fallen and in many pairs of eyes, have sunk as low as the villains. Simultaneously, several wars around the world have been just that - endless carnage, endless heartbreaks but no solutions. Closer home, Indian history throws up some interesting nuggets of wisdom. King Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty was determined to expand his empire pan-India, but got entrenched in intense soul-searching once he saw the madness of war and the lives that it engulfed unapologetically. The peaceful principles of Buddhism also converted Angulimaal, a dreaded dacoit who had a fetish for adding his victims' fingers to a garland around his neck, into a God fearing man. Why the world is still a peaceful place in spite of all the seemingly anarchic situations around the globe is perhaps because of the seeds of peace sowed by many of our philanthropic leaders, one of them perhaps the one who I am not a great fan of. Perhaps that is why, we as human beings - so uniquely diverse and diversely unique still share our lives in harmony. Small, petty quarrels are acceptable - after all, what is life without a little strife. Wars, however, have far greater implications than a mohalley ka jhagdaa. Can you imagine every man, woman and child across boundaries, cultures, religions, ethnicities and ideologies resorting to violence as a tool to settle their differences? The world would become one big Pandora's box - a domino of miseries and no way to shut it down. Remember, John Lennon's Imagine?

I am, by nature, a peaceful person. I love harmony in my life and a balance in people around me. I cringe at quarrels and scoff at being party to one. But I also know that when the time comes - when rightfully, my people, my dignity and what i hold dear are endangered, the cheek to be slapped will not be mine. Yes, we do live in a world where war is sometimes necessary.

(This is my take on war & peace, and I would love to hear yours…)

Image courtesy : www.kearnystreet.files.wordpress.com


  1. I completely second that, Meiyang!
    It is often so that my mind wonders upon this: "Is it the war for peace that is going to end the entire menace?"
    The answer is often a NO. But then there is always a counter-question: "Then what next? what is the other solution??" One cannot go violent on petty issues akin to what you mentioned (moholley ka jhagda) but then, we cannot forgive a terrorist who is standing in front of us with a gun. If walk upto him offering him your other cheek - you're sure to be shot to death. In that, one thief dead = one thief less.
    This has been a debate-turned-battle that has been going on for decades. But it is we who define the boundary - the boundary of anger, the boundary of tolerance. King asoka ruthlessly killed millions and then suddenly underwent a drastic change. It was just his greed to expand that made him put a thousand lives at stake and the realization was for the good. On the other - you can in no way deny the bravery with which few rulers fought for the nation. They criticize Hitler and term him as a maniac because he choked the jews to death. Nothing else could be worse. But where is your spirit to appreciate his bravery, his strategy and shrewdness that took along the Axis so long to sustain in the world war.

    Gosh I almost blogged here. But that is how my opinion goes. In the gist, it is all about defining the boundaries of tolerance and retaliation.

    Lastly, great to have you back - this time with something utterly different. Take Care and go get this published elsewhere too: Believe me it is a very well-crafted set of words and an eye-opener. Go for it Chang. You're truly back with a bang!!
    Keep the charm & Stay precious.

    niyati :)

  2. Thanks for the thoughts, and the compliments Niyati. This is a topic which can never be settled upon. The debate shall be ever-raging. About Hitler, I do appreciate your admiration for him. I read Mein Kampf, and irrespective of whether he could have written it in a manner to glorify himself, I admire Hitler the strategist. Hitler the person I'm not a fan of

    Publishing ... hmmm.. perhaps I should. Whereabouts? Any suggestions?

  3. One thing:
    The Nobel Prize site does say that Barack Obama was awarded "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.
    And for almost every prize awarded it says "for their efforts".

    Oh. So you can get a Nobel prize by just trying hard enough. That lowers the bar a bit, doesn't it?

    But that apart, I feel that this was awarded more as a slap in the face to the Bush administration. yes, Obama is a great president in these times, and yes he is making EFFORTS for betterment in the Middle East. But isn't that basically it? We haven't seen much improvement in the Middle East either.

    Also, the reaction of "talking heads" like Rush Limbaugh to this is ,in a way, shameful.
    Shouldn't the United States be proud that an American, also, the first black president has gotten this honor?

    Podcaster Elysa Montfort once said that,"But instead I'm just left with the impression that Obama COULD, in fact, be the second coming and WAS, in fact, born in a manger, but it still wouldn't matter. They'd bitch about that too."


  4. Profound thoughts there Anjani. It is probably too much to consider Obama as "the second coming" (more sensationalism than anything else), but there's no denying that it lands as a thud on the Bush administration's left cheek.

    However, the purpose of the Nobel prize is to unearth unsung heroes right? Or has the Nobel prize also succumbed to using "faces" more than real human beings?

  5. never thought on it before..
    but after reading this post.. I guess you are right..
    Its really true that "we live in a world where war is sometimes necessary"

  6. Ni Hao Meiyang,

    You are amazing!! I would like to humbly request you to avoid publishing political comments whatsoever. It is my request as a brother.

    Why do not you write lyrics and poems? And are you undergoing musical talim? Apne apko aur jada improve kijie please. I love your voice, and I want to see you as a popular playback singer in Bollywood.

    You must not be a comet, you must be a fixed star over the sky of India.

  7. Dear communist,
    Thank you for your advice & request. My new year resolution is to train myself better in music this year,what with the many things that have kept me away from it
    However,regarding your request for not posting political comments, I'm sorry if I've offended your sensibilities. I write about what I feel about.Honestly, I don't like politics,but issues like these touch all our lives and I'm one of the many who are affected by it.
    Also,after having written this piece,I have had intense debates with many of my more knowledgable peers and they have given me different views about pre-independance India. How would I have imbibed that knowledge without inadvertently beginning a discussion?
    All of us have our passions set in life. Writing is one of my passions,and I can try to be politically correct but cannot stifle my words
    Thanks again for writing in.Keep me in your prayers

  8. This is what one of my friends Rajiv, who is well versed with Indian History had to say - "till Ashoka the might of india was at its peak ,even countries like Egypt,China Mesopotamia etc used to send their ambassadors to the Magadh empire...not because of any tradition but because of the fear of the Magadh army....india ruled till the afganistan...but after ashoka quit war and adopted non-violence india started becoming a weak state and we see that later how the empire continued to fall after Ashoka.
    A country's people work hard n without any fear knowing they have an aggressive army to protect them,same happened with india ...the continuous invasions made india poor,illetrate,backward and weak,even ants keep their border safe by placing their most aggresive ants on the frontline so that the ant family grows safely.
    War and peace are best applied according to the situation.
    Gandhiji did best according to the situation ,who on earth says that we could have defeated the might of British army..and if anyone says that then you know nothing about the history.... See More
    Most of the wars British fought and won where due to their bravery and planning,
    Battles like battle of plassey ,buxur ,maratha war etc,the british were hugely outnumbered still they won like lions.
    if we justify the means of bhagat singh then do you people think the kasmiri militants are doing any different ..please think about it...they too are fighting for their homeland with guns in their hand..killing people,.also bhagat singh was known in punjab n some other hindi speaking states ,Bal gangadhar was the hero of maharashtra ..someone was the hero of bengal and the other of tamil nadu.....but who was the leader of India as a whole?? ..it was GANDHI....india as a concept vaguely existed before gandhi.....and that's what makes this man great.
    80 % of the serving soldiers in the british army were indians...... so whom where we supposed to take up gun and shoot....a punjabi soldier would kill a tamil man , a benagali would shoot at a kashmiri the reason being there was affinity towards their state India didnt exist.......
    Rani laxmi bai for all those who dont know about it had written a letter pleading her state jhansi to be spared and she would not help other indian states in their fight against the British.....but the british didnt agree to it and later Hugh rose overtook jhansi.
    All i want to say is that earlier people were fighting for their own purpose and their common enemy was the British..the fight for INDIA began with the great Mahatma.......and if war was supported then the world would have supported Jinnah for his violent act to achieve independence......ask the world and they would know gandhi but very few will know jinaah.
    All im saying is that peace and war should be applied according to the situation.....and thats why I agree with Obama"

    It definitely changes my stance on Gandhiji. I respect his methods more now that I have a clearer idea about the circumstances under which our independence had to be fought for

  9. Happy New Year bro! May this year of Tiger bring happiness and prosperity to you and your parents!

    And also...


  10. The only thing I know to be true about war is this:
    "War does not decide who's right, It decides who's left."

    They may sound like fancy words-- but its just the nasty truth. Brute force never determines winning or losing-- only suppression and oppression.

  11. Anonymous1:19 PM

    well said chang!!
    war is necessary ven its too much ..........we cant sit folding our hands........n saying 'saare jahaan se accha..'we'll have 2 prove it!!

  12. I would recommend checking out "The art of war" and more importantly "On War". Essentially, was when used as a reaction or upon emotion is very different from war as a strategy to disempower those who refuse to listen to reason.

    Ideally, by the theory of these books, war would be a psychological tactic akin to the ahimsa tactic used by Mahatma Gandhi. And each tactic is only as good as the situation that calls for it.

    Lastly, I dont think anyone wants war, unless they themselves are angry, desperate or dejected.

  13. Anonymous2:54 AM

    my take on war is, I totally avoid 99.9%......but that 0.1% equals to 100% for me......;) ....unfortunately im too sensitive cannot help it and gets trapped into it.- apg