Tibet remains a key factor in Indo-China relations. After the Chinese occupation of #tibet in 1950, India and China came to share the now disputed common border. In recent years, with China's extensive military buildup and massive environmental exploitation of Tibet, as well as reported intentions to divert or dam rivers that rise in Tibet and flow into India, Indian anxieties have only worsened. On the other hand, the Chinese approach is largely driven by its insecurity surrounding the presence of His Holiness the 14th #dalailama and around a lakh strong community of #Tibetans -in-exile in India.
The Government of India’s official stance that
“The Dalai Lama is an honored guest and a respected religious leader with a large following in India” and that “The Dalai Lama is “accorded all due courtesies and freedom to conduct religious and spiritual activities in India”
has so far failed to assuage Chinese concerns. The hardened #chinese stance is evidenced by the fact that even a mere public acknowledgment of the apex Tibetan religious and spiritual leader by any section of the Indian Administration is construed as an infringement on Chinese sovereignty. Conversely, India too has adopted a more hardened stance owing to China's aggressive territorial claims on India, the deepening of the China-Pakistan friendship’ and a shift in China's position viz-a-viz the Indian Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir.
Amidst all of this, are the Tibetans-in-exile in India, largely ignored by the world press but a thorn in China's eyes. In the face of insurmountable odds, this small community has managed to preserve most of its 1300-year-old #buddhist traditions, culture, and identity. However, opportunities in India have been limited, and a recent trend of Tibetans moving to other nations has been reported. It also does not help that India is not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations convention on refugees, which would ensure legal protection of the rights of Tibetans. Consequently, the Tibetans in India have minimal access to social services and are ineligible for government jobs or welfare schemes. If this rapid emigration continues, what will remain of the Tibetan community in India, the country which the Dalai Lama made his home?
The Chinese policy of ‘#onenation , one party, one language, one culture has been dismissive of the Tibetan identity. China has also been attempting to interfere in choosing the successor of Dalai Lama with their pro-China candidate. To counter this, the US passed legislation in 2020, allowing Tibetans to choose the successor of the Dalai Lama without any external influence. India, on the other hand, has been deeply respectful of the historical linkages with Tibet. History stands testimony to the fact that as parts of the Indian subcontinent were being invaded and the Hindu civilization was obliterated by the barbaric attackers, many seers, gurus, and spiritual masters took refuge in the safety and solitude of Tibet, allowing both Hindu and Buddhist thought and literature to survive and flourish. Fast forward to the 21st century and India is now the safe haven for Tibetans. However, with no end in sight, the question remains - Has the global leadership lost its moral compass in the face of naked Chinese might or is there some hope left for the Tibetans in exile?
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