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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Why is New Delhi silent on Tibet?

November 22, 2010

Gulf Daily News
By KULDIP NAYAR
November 21, 2010

CAMP Hale at Colorado in the US is long way from Tibet. But what joins them together is the training of some 2,000 Tibetan warriors who were taught the art of guerilla warfare from 1957 to 1972 to fight China's Peoples' Liberation Army.

The warriors were late because China attacked Tibet in 1947 and annexed the Buddhist kingdom within two years.

Yet the warriors have not given up and continue to put up resistance, if not at Lhasa, Tibet's capital, but the places around.

Beijing sees the hands of New Delhi in the independence war the Tibetans have waged against China. Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna told China this week that Tibet was like Kashmir, "our core problem".

In fact, the Tibetans have a grievance against India which accepted China's suzerainty over their country after the British left the region in 1947.

Their complaint is that New Delhi bends backward to assure China that India has no locus standi in Tibet.

This is also the complaint of the Dalai Lama who took refuge in India in 1954 when he could not tolerate communist shoes trampling upon the spiritual and traditional ways of his people.

India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru could see that the Dalai Lama was not safe in Tibet and sent officials to receive him on the border of India.

This was a great gesture, applauded throughout the world. The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan leaders accompanying him saw in India a country which gave shelter to the persecuted in the world.

But even during the 1962 war with China, initiated by Beijing, Nehru did not utter a word about Tibet.

Nor did he draw the world's attention to the ethnic cleansing going on in Tibet. And that has been the policy of all successor governments to Nehru's.

At times, the Dalai Lama has felt "suffocating" and complained to New Delhi. But there has been no change in India's policy even when Beijing is taking thousands of Chinese to Tibet to settle them there.

A lonely Dalai Lama has pointed out that the centuries-old Buddhist culture in Tibet was being destroyed with a new complexion of population.

But except for odd protests here and there, nothing concerted or concrete has come out. And the Chinese are squeezing out even the semblance of lofty religious practices the Tibetans have defiantly followed.

Essentially, it is India which has to come out of the make-believe world and realise that good relations with China do not depend upon the curbs on the Dalai Lama or the silence over what is happening in Tibet.

Beijing would probably respect New Delhi more if it were to find the latter saying openly what it feels about Tibet.

Eighty per cent of India's population, the Hindus, have always considered Tibet part of Kailash - the mountains where lord Shiva rests. They have religious ties with Buddhism and see in the Dalai Lama a religious head.

No doubt, India accepted China's suzerainty over Tibet in the wake of departure by the British because that is how they dealt with Lhasa.

After more than five decades, New Delhi cannot question the suzerainty but can at least raise a voice against the atrocities committed in Tibet and the recurring violation of human rights.

A suzerain is a ruler or government that exercises political control. There is no challenging of that because Beijing has Lhasa under its authority.

But a suzerain cannot go beyond political control. When China is changing the very complexion of population in Tibet and when the ethnic population is being annihilated, it is not suzerainty but a position of being lord and master.
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