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Visitor to our democracy

The Left champion the fight against communalism, and yet they compromise with fundamentalists in Kerala.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2006 00:52 IST

The Left in India certainly does not lack chutzpah. Or is it just schizophrenia? The comrades preach violent revolution and yet participate in parliamentary politics.

They champion the fight against communalism, and yet they compromise with fundamentalists in Kerala.

So it is not a surprise that they want President Hu Jintao of China to address a joint session of Parliament, after having fought tooth and nail to ensure that George W Bush did not do the same.

Welcoming the move, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat has endorsed the move with the comment that his party had opposed Mr Bush because of the US occupation of Iraq.

It doesn’t really matter to the comrades that China has occupied large chunks of Indian territory by force for the past 50 years. China also has a nasty policy of arming Pakistan with all kinds of weapons of mass destruction that are aimed at India.

Living in a neighbourhood of pseudo-democracies, military dictatorships and outright authoritarian regimes, Indians sometimes do not show sufficient pride in their democratic system.

Only this can explain why there is talk of having the head of a one-party dictatorship — where individual freedom and the right of free speech and association is prohibited — address an institution that is the repository of these freedoms. It can also explain why the leader of a country that shares these values was denied the right to do so.

India must welcome Mr Hu as it must  reject efforts by an overzealous bureaucracy to restrict Chinese investment.

Every effort should be made to resolve our disputes peacefully and to enhance economic ties and closer people-to-people relations.

But neither the state of our relations today nor the value system of the Chinese government makes it appropriate to have its leader address a joint session of our Parliament. A country’s foreign policy must promote values as much as its interests.