India's President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh backed out of scheduled appointments to attend the four-day Global Buddhist Conference that began on November 27. The GBC is being held to mark the 2,600th year of Buddha's enlightenment. Why did two of India's highest leaders back out of a religious meet? Ms Patil and Dr Singh backed out because China strongly objected to the Dalai Lama's valedictory address at the GBC. We are led by a spineless leadership. Our behaviour is being dictated by external powers, like China in this case. There are so many things at play here... Why should the PM and President skip a religious event just because the Chinese object to it? Is China a friend of India that we should care for its political sensitivities? Does not China host anti-India elements like the ULFA chief and other North East terror insurgents? Would Dr Singh and Pratibha Patil have cancelled their appointments if this were a Muslim / Christian event? I understand that Buddhists dont make for a great vote bank. After taking a hard stance on the South China Sea issue, we are back to square one; it seems that we take one step forward and two steps backward. So much for our global power aspirations!