Dharamsala Diary The Year of the Shoe-Olympics By Thubten Samphel Dharamsala Diary has learned while ago that Chinese scholars had started sometime back to put their heads together at the fag end of every year to give it a name. 2007 was the year of prices go up. This year is the messy year. Some bloggers have pointed out that this story of Chinese scholars holding a meeting to christian years is a hoax. There is no such gathering of scholars in China. Whatever, the case, Dharamsala diary likes to believe this story. In this vein, watching world events from our mountain perch, this diary would say, this is the Shoe-Olympics Year. Reporters’ Shoes and Presidential Response The shot was bull’s eye. The dodging was perfect, timed to the last second. After the first shoe-throwing event, the reaction was presidential. President Bush stood there behind the podium, like any confident leader fielding hard questions and skilfully dodging them, and seemed to ask, do you have more shoes for me? As if in answer, a second one came, flying. President Bush dodged that one too. When interviewed later on CNN on the incident, President Bush said, “That’s an interesting way to express one’s self.” That nameless, shoe-less Iraqi reporter, whose real job seems to be a professional and Olympic champion shoe-thrower, must have wondered to himself: that’s an interesting way to dodge my shoes, too. I’m used to leaders dodging my difficult questions but not my expensive shoes. Now we know which country will grab all the gold in the Olympic Games for any shoe-throwing competition in the future. Amid the doom and bloom of the world’s current financial crisis, the shoe industry is sure to boom, especially that particular brand which might become the hottest product from desert to sandy desert. For all those teeming millions salivating to make billions, when the most of the world lives on less than a dollar a day, here’s a bit of a financial advice. Invest in the shoe industry. Good money can be made from it.Financial Crisis and Climate Change And talking about doom and gloom, the wrenching global financial might have a silver lining. For planet Earth. Less money available means less consumption. Less consumption means less exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources. All this adds up to less emission and a better and cleaner environment. For now, at least.China’s Year The year 2008 also belongs to China. No other country, except for Iraq and Afghanistan, has dominated the world media in such a sustained way, grabbing media headlines. This year is the year of Chinese triumphalism. The biggest foreign exchange reserve in the world, a seat at the big table, a walk in space and the holding of the spectacular Beijing Olympic Games. China’s moment in history has arrived. China has once again reclaimed and re-gained its traditional geopolitical and cultural position as the Middle Kingdom. Not so fast you might say because 2008 also saw China having its share of problems. Starting from the snowstorm in February that swept large parts of China to the train tragedy to the sustained and widespread China’s Tibet troubles to the earthquake that devastated Sichuan, China muddled through from one tragedy to scandals after messy scandals, which all came out after the bright, spotlessly clean Olympic rug was removed. Now, the global financial crisis has hit China with tsunami force. Millions are laid off, thousands of factories are shutting down and strikes and protests are on the rise. Amidst all this luan in China, there is a ray of hope. On 10 December, the International Human Rights Day, a group of more than 300 Chinese scholars, writers and activists launched Charter 08, demanding that the Chinese people deserve better governance. At the last count, the number of people who have signed this call for democracy has surged to thousands. Dharamsala Diary hopes that one day, not too far in the distance, we can say this is the year of China’s democracy.
Dharamsala Diary: The Year of the Shoe-Olympics