Monday, May 31, 2010

Is it so difficult to just talk?

Last week, the Canadian goverment refused to grant a visa to a retired high-ranking official of the Indian Army, citing the "poor human rights record" of the Indian Armed Forces as the reason. In addition to taking it up with the Ministry of External Affairs, the retired official went public with the rejection. One news channel carried the story, and before you knew it a pandora's box had been opened. Within the space of a few days, dozens of such cases came to light- the Canadian government had apparently been refusing visas to people who served in the Armed Forces, any Intellegence Agency or the Police for several years.

As a sovereign country, Canada does have the right to refuse to grant visas to anyone, but it was the reasons being cited for doing so that had people fuming. One man who had served in the Punjab Police during the height of terrorism had been told that he was not being granted a visa because he had actively or tacitly approved of the harsh measures being taken by the Police to stamp out Terrorism in the state. Indians old enough to remember those days could not help but be struck by the irony of the statement - most of the masterminds of the Terrorism in Punjab had acquired Canadian passports and were funding the entire operations from the country.

As always, in controversies of this kind, the public was quick to suggest solutions- deny visas to all Canadians wanting to visit India, take it up very strongly in the United Nations, cut all economic ties with Canada, etc, etc. Personally, I thought that what the Indian Government did was the only sensible thing - they had taken the issue up with the Canadian Government, and provided evidence to prove that men in Indian uniforms had a much better record in maintaining human rights than those of most other countries fighting the kind of insurgency and terrorism that the nation was actually facing. But as far as the public was concerned, none of it was enough- they wanted action, and they wanted it now.

But in all the hullaboo, I couldn't help thinking why and how Canada and Canadians had become The Enemy. In blogland, I know and like several Canadians - Jan Morrison, Elspeth and Ann spring to mind. I have two other Canadians who are good virtual friends. I have another real friend who is now a Canadian. If I do not agree with any of them, I can talk to them and sort it out. Why then can nations not do the same thing?

If a person is unaware of the real facts, and is taking major decisions based on the misconception, does it make more sense to educate him, or to fight him? What if the person is actually a nation? Doesn't the same logic continue to apply?

Why is it so difficult to talk, and to listen?

And for something a little more fun. Ann Elle Altman of All Write for Coffee passed on the Sugar Doll Award to me a very long time back. Even though I love receiving awards, I am very, very lax when it comes to passing them on. So lax, in fact, that Ann has even stopped blogging since then :-(

But pass on this Award I will, because there are a whole bunch of Sugar Dolls who I want to acknowledge-
Chary, the wonderful teacher, mother, person and writer from New York
Ella, Lisa and Nikki, because they all define Sugar Doll
Lisa, who just can't stop blogging about a difficult period in her life
Mari, for being herself- though she may say Slug suits her more than Sugar Doll
Tara, the Princess of Procrastination who will always have you in splits
Trudy, for being awesome despite having such a tiny kid at home
Clarissa, because what goes around comes around

They are not the only Sugar Dolls in my life, but I tried to stick to people who don't seem to have got the Award, and who I haven't passed anything onto yet.



You raised an important issue, about not being able to talk, as you say if heads of state did that then perhaps the world may be a little bit easier for some people.

Congrats on the award and also to the people recieving it from you.

Have a good day,

Jan Morrison said...

As I've already talked to you about this issue, dearest Natasha, I won't go on. I'm going to look at what the Canadian press is saying about it if anything. I'm getting tired of being embarrassed by the govt. in power. They will do anything to toady up to the Americans even if it goes against their own human rights policies. They will do anything to secure corporate approval even if it involves ecological disaster. They will do anything to push their leader's fundamentalist and misogynistic ideals even though it expressly goes against the actual laws of the land. They have particularly come forth in this dept. with foreign policy as the usual run of Canadians don't care as long as it 'isn't in their backyard'. I am deeply sorry. I fear your people will not be able to talk to our people because we aren't even encouraged to. I encourage people to show their displeasure at the polls but the young in this country are disaffected. They do not realize that their right to have a say is the most precious thing they have. Enough. Love you muchly!

Cruella Collett said...

Natasha - thank you so much! I feel like a right S(l)ugar Doll Fairy ;)

And I agree with you on communication as key to solve conflicts and disagreements. While I do think that human rights cannot be prioritized enough (note, I am not saying that you don't think so, because I know you do), this sounds like a whole lot of double standards. Sadly, when it comes to international relations that happens a lot, and sadly times two is the fact that human rights and other truly important issues are not the main concern even for countries who claim it is - "good", old-fashioned geopolitics are (I am generalizing here - I don't know any specifics about this case, as I had never even heard of it until I read this).

I know it is a long shot, but the idealist in me hopes (and occasionally still believes) that one day we will be able to change the system so that in the future it will be communication that solves conflicts, and not (irrational?) action that creates them. In the meantime I think it is very important to spread the word about issues such as this, as you are doing.

Tundiel said...

Oh, thanks so much, Natasha! I don't think I've ever been so chuffed by a description - having people in splits is definitely one of my main goals in life. *grins happily*

As to the more serious topic, I totally agree. People are so busy getting their knickers in a twist over anything and everything that they comepletely miss the point. Take a step back and CHILL - reacting in anger will only makes things worse. You'd have thought that after the tons of horrific terrorism acts from the last couple of decades would have taught people this. Honestly, all the world's goverments should be ruled by mothers. We'd straighten 'em out in no time.

Clarissa Draper said...

Ha ha ha. I love that CD got the award from AEA. Now there's a weird moment. But, thank you.

As for the Canadian thing. All of my personalities are Canadian and we're sad. We're sad the governments can't get along. I used to feel proud that my government was so accepting of other nations and cultures but now that multinationalism is slowly melting our glaciers.

I don't have the answer and I fear this trend will only get worse. I know that here in Mexico some were outraged because Mexicans were not getting into Canada either. Sad. Sad. Sad.


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

As far as I can tell, fighting only causes the problem to grow whether it’s between friends or nations. I wish those in power would follow your advice for level-headed talks to uncover the truth before taking action of any kind. It seems so simple...sigh.

Anonymous said...

My neighbour and I were just saying the same thing yesterday. Why can all of us in only 21 houses talk to each other rather than behind each other's backs?

Congrats - YOU are a real sugar doll!

dang said...

Rayna! THANK YOU SO MUCH! I will post this information to my blog in a few days. I appreciate the recognition...truly!


Leanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leanne said...

*shakes head* World is crazy. That's what it boils down to.

Honestly, all the world's goverments should be ruled by mothers. We'd straighten 'em out in no time.

Tara, I have said this SO many times...

PS Apologies for previous deletion, I'm used to getting a chance to edit before posting. ;-)

Anonymous said...

If you read the comments on the article about this issue in the Globe and Mail (Canada's big newspaper), you'll be convinced that the world is populated by crazies, who thrive on this sort of non-issue. Everyone talking at each other, and no-one actually listening. I need to take a shower after reading some of racist stuff (on both sides).

Lisa said...

I try to avoid politics in the news, but in doing so am unaware of what's going on, so I can't weigh in on this discussion. Sorry! :)

Thank you so much for the award Rayna - and the comment that went along with it. :O) I feel especially privileged to be named with Ellie and Niki. What a blessing!

The Old Silly said...

Why can't we all just get along? That is the BIG question ... if you answer it before me, please let me know ... and visa versa, ok? ;)

Marvin D Wilson

Jan Morrison said...

I wrote a long comment on this but it didn't go through! It was the first one - and it was about the unhappiness that I feel being represented by such an idiot. It was really rather literate but that was early this morning. I can't believe that we have a pm who is able to push his own narrow and destructive agenda. yikes. later, later.

Jemi Fraser said...

Yikes! I'm horrified - and I'm another Canadian. I haven't heard about this at all. Not one word in our local news. I have been completely snowed under with work, so I might have missed it but I doubt it. I have several Indian students in my classroom, but this issue hasn't come up.

I completely agree with your comment about people being able to talk things out - why can't governments. They're so tied up in red tape, rituals, pay backs and politics, that common sense tends to disappear. *sigh* Hope this gets cleared up properly!

Ellie said...

I agree, what is it with the the government and heads of state that seem to have problems with dialogue.
Trend carefully here, don't say this or that...then nothing happens, AUGH!!!

I like being a Sugar doll; I need to get caught up, I have a few awards to pass along! I will try to get caught up tomorrow!

Rayna, Thank you; A fun award to receive~

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thank goodness we don't pick our blogging friends based on our governments' behaviors.

In the U.S. I advocate voting every elected official out of office if he or she has already served more than one term. It's time.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Yvonne- it is so sad that our governments have forgotten how to talk- if they ever did.

@ Jan - nothing can be worse than being judged by the government that happens to be in power, isn't it? I so totally know it.

@ Cruella - you are one.
And I am as much for human rights as the next person. But not when it comes to coping with terrorism. The idealist in me would rather the men in uniform be perfect, but the realist in me knows that when they think a family is harbouring a terrorist, they would probably be a bit rough with the family.
Having said that, I think our armed forces behave pretty well as far as human rights are concerned.

@ Tara - and having that as one of your objectives is what makes you such a Sugar Doll.

@ Clarissa - I thought you would get a kick out of it.
And I know you are Canadian, and I know we have so much in common. Why don't people in power realise that?

@ Jane Kennedy - it should be simple. The solution, perhaps, is what my friend Leanne suggestions - put Mothers in charge.

@ Fiona - totally!

@ Lisa - you deserve it.

@ Leanne - you have always sadi that, and it is so true.

@ Niranjana - oh yes, it is on both sides. Make no mistake about it- if we could, we Indians would do the same.

@ Lisa - sensible thing to do.

@ Marvin - I will, for sure. The world needs your hero.

@ Jan - your PM does seem a bit of an ass. And that is the most polite thing I can say about him.

@ Jemi - I am sure it did not attract as much press in Canada as it did here.

@ Ellie - totally. Though from what my Canadian friend tells me, this particular PM is particularly weird.

@ Patricia - absolutely. I guess we have cyberspace to thank for letting us make real friends.

Chary Johnson said...

Goodness, I am absolutely horrible for not reading this sooner. Thanks so much for the award.

As for the topic at hand, I was flabbergasted that a country so liberal and lax could deny visas to those who have served in the military, intelligence agency or law enforcement. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

Coming from the US, one can be a little egocentric when it comes to news, not really actively engaging in international topics. I plan to do so right now with CNN and BBC.

Chary Johnson said...

Rayna, blogger just ate my post. *stamps foot*

Thanks for the award. I'm sorry I did not come sooner. *abashed*

Your topic has actually opened my horizon. When living in the US, one becomes a little egocentric and not aware of the international topics and views of the world. I plan to change this by checking BBC and CNN more regularly. Thanks again.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Chary- blogger did not eat your post, my comment moderation did!
You definitely are a Sugar Doll, however you define one, and I loved passing the Award onto you.

And we get so caught up in our own lives, the rest of the world often passes us by. Happens to all of us!


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