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A Donkey’s Wisdom

The recent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley has unleashed a new wave of anti-China sentiment and violent rhetoric in India. Can literature help us respond to the China–India border clash more ethically. Krishan Chander’s 1964 novel Ek Gadha Nefa Mein (A Donkey in NEFA), based on the 1962 China–India border conflict, offers a way of denouncing the destruction of war without leaving unquestioned the inherently violent task of drawing and defending national borders. The satirical novel tells the story of its protagonist, a talking donkey, caught in the front-lines of Tawang, and bearing witness to the atrocities of war. Through his witty and wise donkey, Chander challenges us to shift the terms of our outrage beyond national categories and to stand instead on the side of a humanism that knows no national borders.
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