By Tenzin Norsang
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking to Shri I.K. Gujral. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel)
New Delhi, November 3 - A felicitation ceremony was organized by All Party Indian Parliamentary forum for Tibet, Gandhi Peace foundation, and other Indian Tibet support groups for His Holiness the Dalai Lama on receiving the US Congressional Gold medal. Former prime minister of India Shri Inder Kumar Gujral presided over as the chief guest at the modest function held today at the India Habitat Centre.
Thousands of Tibetans were also present at a venue watching the event being projected on giant screens.
The ceremony started with a welcome and introductory speech by Shri Dalip Mehta, former Indian diplomat. He said that because of the realization of Dalai Lama as a man of peace, spirituality and great moral courage more and more world leaders are meeting him in public
Outside the auditorium. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel)
In todays fragmented and strife torn world the Dalai Lama is the Messiah of hope which explains his universal appeal. The Tibetan question is very much on the world agenda though governments still hesitate to support. Chinese government continues to label him as spilitist despite his repeated position of middleway approach.
Representatives of various religious traditions of India presented bouquets to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Mr. Rajiv Mehrotra said that chief minister Sheila Dixit could not make it due to an important meeting in Mumbai.
(Photo by Tenzin Dasel)
However, according to media reports, Indian government asked its ministers to keep away from the function to avoid criticisms from the Chinese government.
Shri I.K. Gujral said that "every time we get an opportunity to pay our homage and respect to His Holiness, it is always a great day for us. All the world recognizes it and His Holiness truly deserved the honour of the Congressional Gold Medal. This medal has a great merit not only because it is presented by US congress but also because it says something which reminds us of the message of father of our nation, Gandhi ji. If you look at the words inscribed on back of the medal, it says “Peace must develop from inner peace. Peace is not the absence of violence. Peace is the manifestation of Human Compassion” and this is what Gandhi Ji always said. When congress presented it to you we felt honored because we thought this was the message which was not only given to you but to the Indian nation as well."
His Holiness being presented a sword by representatives of Sikh. (Photo by Tenzin Dasel)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama started his speech by thanking all present at the function. He said that this occasion gives him opportunity to meet many of his long time friends including Shri. Gujral. He said that he always considered this friendship as not having developed due to money or fame but as a human being on the basis of human love and sense of concern. This friendship will not only remain in this life but will last for many lives to come. He also remembered all the past Indian friends who are no longer with us for their genuine sympathy for a moral and just cause. He said he admired India for its religious tolerance and mutual respect.
He said all these awards are a recognition of his sincere effort for promoting religious harmony along with the struggle of Tibetan people. These beliefs in his effforts, he said, came from India. He said that Secularism is respect of all religions and respect of non believers too.
Talking on the Tibetan issue, he said he is concerned about the "demographic aggression" by the China because of which Tibetans are becoming minority in their own land.
Tibet being geographically located between the two most populous and ancient nations India and China, a genuine friendship on the basis of mutual trust between these two nations is very important.
He said that Tibetan issue will not disappear after the Dalai Lama as thought by China but that it will remain until its goal is reached.
The ceremony concluded with a thank you note by Dr. N. K. Trikha, National Convener of Core Group for Tibet. He said that "during the presentation of the medal in Washington, Mitch McConnell, leader of the Republican Party in the senate said that the American congress stands with Tibet, I am sure that a day will come very soon when Indian parliament will say through an official resolution that we stand with Tibet".