News and Views on Tibet

Opinion: Rudely awakened Modi plays Tibet card

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
PM Modi has wished His Holiness the Dalai Lama on his birth anniversary (Photo/Republic World)

By Ugyen Gyalpo 

It’s funny how politics is being played. Just few years ago Modi scraped all Dalai Lama events to appease the Chinese leader. In the shores of Chennai against the backdrop of soft sounds of crashing waves of the Indian ocean, Xi and Modi had a cosy private dinner to the dance and tune of Indian classical music. Modi and Xi both heralded the summit as very productive and constructive. But as soon as Xi flew over the Himalayas, he threw away his promises like his used tissues papers in the soils of India. Modi flew back to Delhi brushing his grey moustache in contemplation and feeling assured of the promises Xi Jinping made. 

In just a matter of months though, the hollow citadel of promises came crashing when Modi was caught off guard in his complacency and newly built charade of trust, when the Chinese armies brazenly ambushed the Indians in a deadly hand to hand fatal combat on the gates of heaven. The unapologetic Xi watched and stood silently, while Modi braced after being thrown into a reeling panic attack. India was stabbed yet again in the back by the Chinese like they did in 1962. Overnight unannounced India was thrown into a war on the corridors of the roof of the world. 

Fast forward few years later from the days of snubbing all Tibet related events and the appeasement policy towards China, at a time of heightened tension at the Indo-Chinese Occupied Tibetan borders, at a time when India finds itself surrounded, a rudely awakened Modi stealthily lays out his stratagem and readies to plays the Tibet card. A precursor to all of this is the first private phone call the sitting Indian Prime Minister made, the first one ever in Modi’s already long term in office to wish His Holiness on his 86th birthday. 

A well intentioned move it was and widely received with fanfare and also cautious optimism by the Tibetans around the world. It is about time that Modi should rise and recognize once and for all Tibet as an independent country. A precedence to which is already being set by a senator in the U.S which is sure to catch wind given the strong bipartisan support for the Tibetan cause. Unlike the 1950’s, where Nehru probably buried his conscience into the closet and swept Tibet’s legitimate place in the world under the rug of political conspiracy and sacrificed Tibet at the altar of geopolitical self interest. 

It is truly tragic that today India is paying a huge price as a direct result of Nehru’s blunder in dealing with China vis-a-vis Tibet. Nehru’s two prominent advisers in Krishnan Menon and Panikar is also to be blamed for masterminding this bludgeoning policy that catapulted the cataclysmic death and destruction of Tibet. 

Fast forward to 2021, times have changed dramatically. India is no longer the same India that it used to be back in the fifties. Modi can just as easily have used Xi Jinping’s rhetoric like in his recent speech at the centenary to warn China that no one can bully India anymore. India is a nuclear power and force to be reckoned with in the global scheme of things. With the coalition of western allies behind and Japan and Australia on its side, India also should wield its prowess and not let China trample all over the place. India must not also let China dictate their terms and let His Holiness go freely within the borders of India even if it is to sensitive areas such as the old historical areas of Tibet like the Arunachal Pradesh.  

I think India should brush off the last remaining remnant of Nehru’s cowardice and should once and for all, come out with the spine of truth and break that wall of hypocrisy and declare and recognize Tibet as an independent country. I have always said that if Nehru is given a second chance to life, if he is resurrected from his grave, as retribution to his colossal moral failure, he would redeem himself quickly by setting the historical facts straight once and for all that Tibet was never part of China.   

Even in the United States, a Bill initiated by Republican Senator Scott Perry last year and amended version of which is fast gaining steam, which aims to recognize the whole of Tibet, both the political Tibet and ethnographic Tibet, that comprises all of the three provinces as an independent country. The significance, the symbolism and the future the bill holds is beyond how Tibet is being used as tool for U.S own self interest. But that is not the point. This bill has the potential to set a precedence for the cause of Tibet and other nations to follow suit in declaring Tibet as an independent country. 

If India is to follow suit, this one shift on India’s policy towards Tibet vis a vis China, will open the floodgates of Tibet support fronts hitherto fearing of China’s economic prowess to follow suit and cement this fact and resurrect Tibet back to life and place Tibet as a historical buffer zone eliminating all borders with China. 

This will also help pave way for CTA’s policy to change, which has been hitherto banging on dead end wall for the past thirty plus years, stuck at an embarrassing crossroad, neither able to withdraw nor advance their policy of the middle way approach. If they have been waiting for the perfect tide to make a u turn on their failed policy, the culmination of all these change in winds is the perfect time to make that pivotal move. A fresh referendum using the arms of democracy should give Tibetan a right for an opinion poll that would reflect the true aspirations of the Tibetan inside of Tibet based on the manifestation of suffering amplified through horrific forms in self immolations. There is no way that Tibetans inside of Tibet would ever want to live along with Chinese let alone the case of autonomy which the CCP has made a mockery of. The disconnect from the ground reality and the policy framework of the CTA is there and we can’t ignore this elephant in the room any further. I truly feel that Tibetan have evolved with the changing times from our semi feudal days that we should deal with the world in our own terms, free of old religious clinging and dogmas and march forward and not backwards that has caused this fate mostly due to our own failures. 

As for now, whatever favourable wind is blowing that might seem to help move the pendulum for Tibet, we must seize the opportunity to build our case upon. We have nothing to lose. Tibet for the past seventy plus years has been sucked to its core, mountains have been moved, our civilization thrown at the brink of extinction.

The sole purpose of the CTA should be to find a closure and a solution to the Tibetan cause ASAP… period! Otherwise with the vagaries and political theatre that our Democratic set up has become, sometimes I wonder do we even need our government that is moving farther away from our cause. Any movement can be sustained from grassroots levels too and ours is no different. CTA must heed the sentiments of the Tibetan people who are growing impatient by the day and are now questioning the very purpose of its foundation when they are always lost in endless feuds. Wake up before it is too late. It is already late!!! 

(Views expressed are his own)

The author is a blogger at ‘The Roar of the Snow Lion’. He is a Tibetan living in Woodside, New York. 

5 Responses

  1. While I vehemently disagree with Pandit Nehru’s stand on Tibet, I have genuine respect for Panditji! In the Cold War era of the 1950s, Nehru’s India stood with the Soviet Union and its satellites like communist China as the socialist bloc. Nehru was a great admirer of the Soviet Union while Gandhiji frowned upon the Bolshevik Revolution and it’s ghastly murder of the Russian Imperial family of Emperor Nicholas ll, his wife Empress Alexandra and their five children by the Bolsheviks. The whole family was shot and bayoneted!
    With the Chinese communist rhetoric of Asian solidarity and anti-colonialism, Nehru was a comrade in arms with his Chinese counterparts. He didn’t give much thought about the plight of the Tibetan people’s right nor the danger to his own country’s security because he trusted the Chinese like he did Gandhi’s words. He was excited about the Russian and Chinese revolutions and this blindsided him.
    On the other hand, if we look at how Tibet itself played a role, we will have to admit, we made grave mistakes as well. We may excuse ourselves with many pretexts but the reality is, we did play into the Chinese hands even if it was unwittingly or out of sheer naivety.
    The Tibetan Government’s decision to go to Beijing with the Dalai Lama in 1954 was a mistake. The Dalai Lama’s visit to Beijing was a gigantic propaganda scoop for the Chinese communists to demonstrate to the world that “Tibet is part of China” narrative. They created the scene of the Dalai Lama giving a long white scarf to Mao with his head slightly bowed while Mao gives nothing in return!!! This was to show to the world that Tibet was subordinate to China!!!
    Another scene that’s makes ones stomach churn is the Dalai Lama slotting his ballot paper in the ballot box with the Communist flag at the back ground. It was very cleverly choreographed to instil the notion that indeed “Tibetans are Chinese”.
    These graphic photos were carried by the Chinese propaganda machinery to every nook and corner of the world and convinced the world that Tibetans have accepted Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet!
    We have to be very careful not to allow ourselves to be deceived by the Chinese over and over again. Surely, we should learn some lessons from the chicanery of the communist regime.
    The so called “17 point treaty” was no different. At the back of Ngapo Ngawang Jigme signing the document, there is no Tibetan flag to be seen but a giant communist flag in the back ground. This was a calculated plan to tell the world that Tibet signed its rights off to China. Sure, we were forced to sign under duress but all the same, we must understand how the Chinese use such occasions for maximum propaganda benefit to suit their claims. What has been done cannot be undone but we must learn lessons from these devious acts of the Chinese to promote their narrative about Tibet.
    On the world stage we are still very much like the proverbial ཨ་ཕོ་ཧོར་ who is mesmerised by the sight of Lhasa that he doesn’t know how to go about in the city!!!
    India has given Tibetan refugees great humanitarian assistance but has not raised its little finger when it comes to politics for the last sixty years. They have abided by their agreement with the Chinese communists but the Chinese never lived by their words. They say something but do exactly the opposite. Perhaps, the Indians have been miffed by such tactics by the Chinese over the years. They may be therefore trying to serve the same medicine to the Chinese by meeting the Dalai Lama this time around. If Modi meets the Dalai Lama, it will give a true sense of déjà vu to the Chinese how it feels to be stepped on your toe.
    It may also be a signal that India is not going to be a silent spectator in the choice of the future Dalai Lama Dalai Lama.

  2. Sir, stop laying every blame on at Nehru’s altar. He is not here to defend himself now. In India there’s already a blame game happening . But we should also understand geopolitical compulsions of growing up India at that time and place. May be he was right or wrong, depending upon which side of political divide you are. We have not shown far sight even now and thrown away all the advantages we had made after so many hardships faced by Indians per se. Our political class is squarely to be blamed for this which has always put ego up on their sleeves.

  3. You are right Ugyen, it is always easier to finger point one’s mistake than to correct it. PM Modi can right Nehru’s wrong by acknowledging Tibet an independent country!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *