… it remained focused to the topic “In a Tough Neighborhood”. It was moderated by journalist Siddharth Varadarajan of The Hindu. Everybody in the panel provided unique perspectives. I felt they should not have missed representation from Nepal that featured in the talk thanks to Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir, who I think, stood out. She correctly pointed out while Saran gave an embarrassing smile that during the 2006 People’s Movement (Jana Andolan II) India sided with the monarch and later changed the stand because ‘writing was on the wall’. Saran who was India’s foreign secretary (and before that ambassador to Nepal) during the King’s rule in Nepal defended saying India is not always right in its decisions.
Problem with the Indians in general is that they blame their neighbors for all problems in the region while completely ignore 1) their contribution to those problems and, more importantly, 2) trifes within India itself -from Manipur and Assam to Kashmir and Telengana. As it happens with many other Indians, both of them, particularly Siddharth, talked as if India was the most peaceful country in the world and only Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were going through unimaginable problems. Though the session had nothing to do with literature (except that some of the participants were writers) it talked about the ‘real’ issue and I thoroughly enjoyed listening the conversations.