BY P. KHAREL
In an acknowledgement of China’s sensitivity to the Dalai Lama’s political activity in the guise of religious pilgrimage and world peace, India’s Cabinet Secretary P.K. Sinha the other week issued a directive to its top officials that it was “not dersirable” for them to attend events organised by Tibet’s government-in-exile celebrating the Dalai Lama’s life in India, given “the sensitive nature of the subject”.
The circular came in the wake of less than three months after India and China held talks on their long-pending border dispute in December. And it was only in June that New Delhi and Beijing were locked in a confrontation when Indian troops moved in to prevent China from building a road in Bhutan’s Doklam region. The confrontation receded on a cautious note after both Beijing and New Delhi agreed to pull out from the area in August.
Most governments have ignored the Buddhist spiritual leader who is more than covertly supported and apparently financed by Western governments, whose support for the Dalai is more political than anything spiritual for clandestine funneling millions of dollars in raising the issue of Tibet.
Host to the self-exiled Tibetan since 1959, New Delhi’s sympathies of political nature are obvious, but it restrains him from exceeding the bare minimum activity chalked by New Delhi. The Dalai’s programmes and meeting schedules are perused by the Indian government ostensibly for “security” reasons.
GROUND REALITY: New Delhi is prepared to do so much and nothing more, given Beijing’s stand on the issue of the Dalai’s ultimate political objectives that also meet his supporters in the West. New Delhi is well aware of the vulnerability of especially its north-east states where simmering militant movements are present since ages. At one time, several states suffered armed militants all over the region.
Beijing’s neutrality in such matters would be a great relief to its Indian counterpart. Not that New Delhi is equally sensitive to similar conflict in its South Asian neighbourhood, where it is known to have sponsored and helped organise clandestine activity by various armed forces.
Certain foreign agencies consider Tibet to be the nearest route to penetrating, influencing and inciting groups vulnerable to their manipulation of ideological posturing aimed against the communist government, in power since 1949. Since the past two decades, China has emerged as a highly potent economic competitor whose international profile and presence has raised its stock markedly. That the one-party state should emerge with such global success and force has unsettled many a country in the traditionally “industrial powers” that defined and detailed their own version of political systems aggressively prescribed as best suited for “all” nations. Along with it was also the assertion that the “values” they prescribe are equally applicable for the rest of the world.
Such approaches and tactics are unleashed through the Dalai and his team to needle and create pinpricks against Beijing, with a long-term hope target of creating conditions for chaos like the ones tested in many a country, including Nepal. Beijing now is taking the issue with graver concern than what has been made known so far.
PATTERN: Dalai in 1992 expressed his keen desire to visit Bhutan for a last obeisance to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, his guru in teachings related to Ningmapa sect of Buddhism. For a hermit-like protectorate under India’s supervision of its foreign and defence policies, identifying the source inspiring the Dalai to submit such request needed no much imagination. Beijing made it clear that such visit would not be taken without concern, and Thimpu and its patrons allowed the request letter to go unapproved.
The Dalai in 1991 wanted to visit Kathmandu Valley on, as pleaded, a pilgrimage to various Buddhist sites. The Interim Government headed by Nepali Congress leader Krishna Prasad Bhattarai was close to approving the request but withdrew from the same when King Birendra cautioned him against it in consideration of China’s sensitivity over the issue.
In fact, an opinion piece by this scribe in The Rising Nepal during the final stage of the decision on the request seems to have played a role in tilting the balance. Prime Minister Bhattarai and Information and Communications Minister Yog Prasad Upadhyay, according TRN Editor-in-Chief Shyam Bahadur KC, regretted that they were not consulted when publishing the article that carried the heading “Neither The Time Nor The Clime”.
The Indian government’s directive against participating in events with political connotations organised by the Dalai-blessed government-in-exile reflects New Delhi’s latest approach to policies pertaining to its superpower neighbour whose clout is ever growing in an indication of the beginning of the decline of West’s economic clout and, with it, political influence.
Tibet has undergone a landmark transformation in terms of economic progress, modern amenities and opportunities covering health, education and employment. Having been heavily dependent on foreign agencies for six decades, the octogenarian Dalai is in a dilemma in the autumn of his life as to what political legacy to leave for posterity. In his pensive and peaceful mood, he alone should decide and do the necessary for a meaningful message and appropriate action.
Dalai Lama’s Dilemma
BY P. KHAREL