By Tenzin Sangmo
Dharamshala, Nov 15: The Advisor on Tibet affairs to the government of India, Amitabh Mathur retired in September 2018 leaving the post vacant. The NDA government in October 2015 appointed the former head of the ARC — the aviation wing of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Amitabh Mathur as the advisor to the government of India on Tibet affairs. Mathur has extensive experience of working closely with the Tibet issue that dates back to his school time where he had Tibetan schoolmates.
Mathur was the first to be appointed as advisor for Tibet by the government of India, as a result of a proposal by Mr L.C. Goyle, the union home secretary at the time.
The representative His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Delhi, Kasur Ngodup Dongchung remarked that it is at the discrepancy of the government of India whether to appoint another one in his place or not although it would definitely help to have one.
Mathur cherishes the experience having been able to straighten the vexed procedures of RC, IC, exit permit etc. In fact, he said, the government is currently in the process of issuing a travel document in the place of IC that will remove foreign government’s hesitation over issuing visas to the Tibetans. He claimed to have tried to do away with the rules made in the 60’s and 70’s. He, however, asserted that “If we have achieved anything during my advisorship, it is because of the support I received from the honourable home minister Rajnath Singh ji, Minister of State Mr Kiren Rijiju and former Home Secretary Mr Rajiv Mehrishi.”
The advisor also functions as the liaison between the Central Tibetan Administration and Government of India, be it about matters like grants or issues faced by the settlements.
He visited Dharamshala from October 24 to 28th and met with the Sikyong and other officials. He and his wife also had a private audience with the Dalai Lama on Oct 26th which he deemed most fortunate.
Commenting on FCRA issues in the diaspora, Mathur said, “This is where having an advisor would help facilitate such process as the labrangs (monastic seats) are doing excellent charity work with old age homes, orphanages, schools and medical camps that often run into legal entanglement because they are not always professionally managed.
He added that he hopes the H.H. the Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje will come back to India soon as the three-day meeting of Tibetan Buddhist leaders taking place at the end of November will be incomplete without him.
Tenzin Tsundue, one of most active Tibet activists and poet said India's special coordinator on Tibet who is modestly called "Advisor" plays significant role in coordinating the Government of India's relationship with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, CTA, the Karmapa and the Tibetan refugees. “With a personal interests on the Tibet, Amitabh Mathur played an in important role. I hope the government will soon fill up the position as the changing scenario on Tibet is getting critical now.”
It is speculated that Tibetans may have to wait until next year to see a new appointee, after the slated visit of President Xi Jinping who accepted the invitation by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit to have a Wuhan-like informal summit in India in 2019.