India’s Tibetan troubles

For more than a week, the Indian government was content with providing meek responses to continuous needling by a very paranoid Chinese government. But the summoning of the Indian Ambassador to China, a lady at that, in the wee hours of the morning, to express Chinese anger at their embassy in Delhi being stormed was something that India could not simply let go if it had any sense of pride left. The BJP certainly did not help matters by calling attention to the government’s attitude towards Chinese barbs on the Tibetan issue, and terming it ‘nationally humiliating’. So, the Indian government finally responded by cancelling Kamal Nath’s planned visit to China just under a week from now. Not satisfied with all the petulance it had displayed till now, China further threatened to cancel the Indian leg of the Olympic torch relay. But the Indian government has assured tight security to the event. Maybe it should have conveyed a better message to China – shove the torch up your ****! But that would be undiplomatic, would it not? Another problem that the current government faces when it comes to the India-China relationship is the fact that it relies on support from the various Chinese er.. communist parties, who more often than not side with China in bilateral issues.

The Indian view on Tibet and the US or French or German view on the region don’t match because of a geopolitical reality – China is sitting on top of India’s head. It has amassed a large army in Tibet which is very well placed to cutoff the entire north-eastern part of India from the rest of the country, if it decides to do so. Chinese designs on Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, and thereby on the entire state, arising out of its conquest of Tibet are well known and is a major threat to India. Successive Indian governments have been very tight lipped on the matter in spite of constant Chinese interference in the form of comments asserting their claim on the territory. So, while Pelosi or Sarkozy or Merkel can say what comes to their mind without worrying about anything other than a diplomatic jousting match, India cannot afford to do so. If push comes to shove, and China becomes aggressive in its efforts on Arunachal, none of the above countries including the United States can be trusted to come to its help. The United States, in particular, is a strange ally (if you can call it that) because it was the one that sent its warships into the Bay of Bengal during the Bangladesh Liberation war of 1971, siding with a genocidal Pakistan against liberator India.

The Indian government surely needs to clarify its stand on Tibet. It bartered away its right to question China’s claim of Tibet being an integral part of China in exchange for Chinese acceptance of Sikkim being a part of India. It is now afraid that China will raise questions on Indian ‘occupation’ of Kashmir. I don’t know where Kashmir comes into the picture. Unlike China which just waltzed into Tibet uninvited, Kashmir’s inclusion into India was in a much more civilized manner.

While an independent Tibet can only be dreamed about, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans who have been running their government-in-exile from India for half a century now can surely go back to a reasonably autonomous Tibet inside China. But that is only possible if China gets off its pedestal and starts talking sense.

An interesting article on the entire issue by Ashok Malik in the Daily Pioneer – Tibet is not India’s issue

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