News and Views on Tibet

India needs to counter China in the Himalayas, says Tibetologist Claude Arpi

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Tibetologist Claude Arpi (Photo- Auroville)
Tibetologist Claude Arpi (Photo- Auroville)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 27: Noted historian and Tibetologist Claude Arpi has said that Tibet issue can be an effective factor for the Indian government to counter Chinese expansionist policies in the Himalayan border. In an op-ed published in the Deccan Herald on Wednesday, the author discussed the importance of the Himalayan border which has traditionally “shared countless cultural, spiritual, strategic and economic similarities” with India. 

“The need of the hour is to revitalise the Himalayas and link it with the welfare of Tibetan refugees and the promotion of their unique culture. It is the only way to balance China’s propaganda efforts in the border areas,” the expert said.

Tibet watcher Arpi argued that Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or the novel silk roads are crucial attempts from the administration to stop the kinship between Tibet and the Himalayas. “All the borders have been closed for almost 60 years now, with the exception of three land ports opened for petty trade at Nathu-la, Shipki-la and Lipulekh-la; far from the flourishing business that took place over many centuries,” he said. 

Arpi urged the Indian government to form a coherent policy for Tibetan refugees and the population residing in the border areas, “The age-old ties between the Land of Snows and India’s Himalayas has remained alive but now it needs to be revitalized by the government.” He cited the recent clashes in Ladakh that peaked in June as a reason for the Indian administration to form a policy that includes both Tibet and the Himalayan belt. 

In what he proposed as a “Himalayan and Tibetan Affairs’ Policy”, the historian suggested that India should fight against any form of imperialism and defend the rights of weaker people. Arpi also recommended coordination to achieve the aim of a common policy for all stakeholders including external affairs, defence, home, education, culture, and security agencies. Citing the Indian government’s directive in 2018 that said that no Indian officials should meet the Dalai Lama, he said that any fear of negative Chinese reaction should be stymied.

He further proposed a need to form a Department of Himalayan and Tibetan Affairs (DHTA) under the Prime Minister’s office to implement the holistic policy decided by the government. The prime agenda of the new office, Arpi suggested, is to take measures to stop the migration of local population and Tibetans to the big cities, work on ties between the defence forces and local population, promote trans-border pilgrimages and promote Buddhism on a large scale. 

Claude Arpi is a French-born author, journalist, historian and Tibetologist. He is the director of the Pavilion of Tibetan Culture at Auroville. The Dalai Lama inaugurated the Pavilion with Claude Arpi in attendance in 2009.  

7 Responses

  1. People who live in glass houses can’t throw stones.

    If India recognizes Tibet as an independent country that was occupied, China can easily recognize Sikkim and Kashmir/ Ladakh. The end result will be escalating conflict in Asia.

  2. BJP Government must overhaul Tibet policy. Appeasement has never worked with communist China and never will. Modern India is strong and world trust her more than communist china. Now the major world powers are challenging China. Time is right. Help Tibetans to achieve their middle way approach by supporting Dalai Lama internationally. Free Tibet is India’s security & progress!

  3. If India wants to have peace and safe in their border regions and save lots of expences, hardships, worry and sadnesses, they musst tell the truth that the chinese communist army annexed independent Tibet with militiary force. It is the right time that India lead alle the nations and ask the chinese to give Tibet back to the Tibetans. This claim has the truth. One musst not feel shy to speak the truth. When Tibet is independent, Bharat ko kohi kharcha nahin hoga. All the expences what India spends for the borders can than be used for civil developments in India.

    1. Very rightly said. Blunders caused by the ruling Govt. then has caused irreparable loss to the Tibetan cause which needs to be corrected by the present regime now without any further delay. Rightly said better late than never and India must lead the comity of nations for this righteous cause.

  4. Points suggested by the author to counter Chinese hegemony needs serious thinking by policy makers of the Government of India. This is the right time to check and thwart Chinese expansionism when relations between the two Asian giants are not cordial and is strained and world opinion is in our favour and the Tibetan community. Indian Government should not hesitate to check and neutralize Chinese influence and domination by taking appropriate steps without fear and favour which is the only way to counter their nefarious designs once for all.

  5. India should go further than that. India should stop recognizing Tibet as an autonomous region of China. China invaded and captured independent country Tibet. It is best that India work together with the US and other allies to liberate Tibet.

    1. Yes, India should recognize Tibet as an independent country which was there before 1949 and seek support at the UN forum.

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