Daya Varma and Vinod Mubayi


The unrest in the Tibet region of China is having an impact in India also. The Indian government is obligated to ensure that the Tibetan community in India who fled with the Dalai Lama in 1959 does not engage in political activity against China. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proclaimed during his recent trip to China that it was India’s desire to have good and friendly relations with China. However, events related to the conflict in Tibet have indicated that India needs to do more to ensure that India does not become a platform for campaigners with their own dubious agendas.


In particular, failing to stop rowdy Tibetans from attacking the Chinese embassy in New Delhi was a lapse that needs to be prevented in future. The existence of the so-called Tibetan government in exile in India headed by the Dalai Lama is now an anachronism.  One can easily imagine India’s reaction if China allowed a Khalistani, Kashmir or Naga government in exile to be set up somewhere inside China.


Recently, Ms. Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States visited Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama and his group are located, and announced that Tibet poses “a challenge to the conscience of the world.” This is highly ironic coming from a political leader of a country that launched a ferocious war in Iraq on completely false pretenses, set up an illegal government, executed a head of the state and has killed nearly a million civilians so far and continues to spread misery throughout the region. Ms. Pelosi would be well advised to heed the old adage that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones” and focus her energies instead on ending U.S. military and political interventions in the affairs of other countries and peoples rather than lecturing others on human rights.  Similar advice may also be offered to the neo-Buddhists of the West, who, in mourning the “cultural losses suffered by the Tibetans under Chinese occupation,” are recanting, perhaps, for the past genocide committed by their ancestors against the natives of Americas and Africa. 


This is not to say that there are no problems in Tibet or that China has not failed on certain accounts. As an academic commentator has remarked “the very mechanisms by which Beijing has been attempting to resolve the ‘Tibet Question’ through the force of rapid growth has in fact been reinforcing underlying political and social tensions due to the marginalization of Tibetans in the face of such growth.” The situation resembles the Dalit question in India. Tibetan rulers had kept the population under virtual slavery through the Lamas for centuries and the level of education was abysmally low. Consequently, the native Tibetan population is economically, educationally and socially far behind and lacks the educational skills and entrepreneurship of the Chinese Han population. Naturally, with the mass migration of Chinese into Tibet, there is gross economic disparity between the local Tibetans and the newly arrived Chinese. This is both a matter of concern and discontent, which has been used by anti-China elements to arouse the population into violent action, such as burning Chinese shops and establishments and killing non-Tibetan Chinese. The government of China ultimately had no choice but to intervene as it did to maintain public order.  Hopefully, China will learn from this episode and take special measures to elevate the cultural, educational and social status of the Tibetans.


On its part, India should properly restrict the activities of the Tibet Government in exile on its territory; better still it may encourage this regime and its noisy supporters to migrate to the U.S, which seems overly concerned at the fate of the Dalai Lama. China bashers, on their part, should know that China is not weak like Serbia and Tibet cannot become a Kosovo. 

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