2000
1989

The Dalai Lama is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

He visited Delhi for the 2,500th anniversary of the Buddha’s birth, but Nehru persuaded him to go back. In 1959 he fled from Lhasa and entered India, received warmly by Nehru. Has since been living in McLeodganj.
He tells the Tibe­tan Assembly that he wants to relinquish tem­poral power. This brings to an end the dual spiri­tual and political authority of the Dalai Lamas.
He presented a draft democratic constitution for Tibet, providing detailed guidelines on the function­ing of the Tibetan administration- in-exile.
Tibetans in India and 33 countries worldwide elected 46 members to the 11th Tibetan Assembly on a one-man-one- vote basis.
The Karmapa Lama escapes Tibet and comes to Dharamsala.
1956                                   1963
1990
2011

hi, is believed to have gone off bad­ly. Indian sources told india today that the Dalai Lama was “virtually kid­napped,’’put into an unmarked car with dark window shades as it drove into 7, Race Course Road, the PM’s official residence, that evening.

Asked about the meeting, the Da­lai Lama laughed, but refused to say anything. As the sources put it, he was “visibly shaken” by the encoun­ter. It seems Modi didn’t come out to receive him—unlike other PMs in the past. Moreover, he spoke to him in Hindi, which was translated into English. The Dalai Lama replied in English. They talked about a variety of things, including China.

It seems the Dalai Lama, his advis­ers and a Hong Kong-based Chinese businessman friend had been dis­cussing a possible meeting between the Dalai Lama and Xi during the lat­ter’s Delhi visit. It is believed the gov­ernment wasn’t too happy with these developments and had made its views known to the Dalai Lama’s people.

Certainly, many things have changed in the new New Delhi. For a start, the new PM recognises the need to reconcile the leftovers of history and make good with India’s largest neighbour. The PM also knows that a sustainable relationship with China cannot ignore the presence of the Da­lai Lama and the Tibetan communi- ty-in-exile in India. Not because of the
so-called “Tibet card” in India’s dip­lomatic arsenal—which has been so watered down by Delhi over the dec­ades since the Dalai Lama arrived— but because the Chinese leadership sees the Tibetan spiritual leader as a veritable red rag to its predominantly Communist Party identity.

It is widely acknowledged that the Dalai Lama’s escape in 1959 only aggravated the already deteriorating relationship between India and Chi­na, leading to the 1962 border con­flict and several consequent decades of tension. But as China rises again, nationalist feeling against the distinc­tive but dissenting cultures of Tibet and Xinjiang is only growing. “China’s main problem with the Dalai Lama is that it wants him to accept that Tibet has always been an integral part of China. No Dalai Lama can accept that, as this is historically debatable,” says Nalin Surie, a former envoy to China.

HINDI-CHINI BHAIBHAI2.0

In his August 2014 meeting with the Dalai Lama, perhaps Modi believed that the beautiful new relationship he was about to forge with Xi would be unnecessarily damaged by an 80-year-old Tibetan leader the Chi­nese love to hate, who happens to be living in his country. Whatever the truth, Modi’s subsequent conversa­tions with the Chinese leadership in Ahmedabad, Delhi, Xi’an and Beijing
are said to have given him a proper insider’s perspective into the highly complex relationship with his big and powerful neighbour.

The Chinese are certainly keen on ramping up much-needed econom­ic investment in India. But in recent years they have refused to consider a “status quoist, as-is-where-is solu­tion” on the boundary dispute—that is, India and China keep the terri­tories under their present control, Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin respectively, as was twice contemplat­ed in the past by Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping—and insisted that any deal with India must incorporate Tawang, plus some additional territory from Arunachal Pradesh.

Certainly, only a strong govern­ment with a large majority can politi­cally afford to cede territory to China. During the Atal Bihari Vajpayee era, talk of a “soft border” between Ta­wang and Tibet—similar to the pro­posal to transform the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir into a “soft border”—of­ten surfaced, which soon died a nat­ural death. Since 2003, 18 rounds of border talks between representatives of the two governments have taken place, but to no avail. In the interim, China’s economy has grown by leaps and bounds, transforming not only the eastern Chinese seaboard but also the hinterland within. With the train from Beijing to Lhasa beginning

its first run in 2006, the Commu­nist Party moved to populate Tibet’s towns with Han Chinese.

Then, in August 2013, the Indian Air Force landed the C-130J Hercu­les aircraft at Daulat Beg Oldi, the highest landing ground in the world, on the frontier with China in the Ladakh sector, near the theatre of the 1962 war. “The move sent shiv­ers down China’s spine,” a retired Indian diplomat said. Other airstrips not used since the 1962 debacle were resurrected, at Chushul in the west­ern sector and Tezpur in the eastern sector, where a squadron of Sukhoi fighter jets was placed.

“Question is,’’asked a retired for­eign secretary, “how do you play the game with the much more powerful Chinese, with a weak hand? The an­swer is to put in place a strike capa­bility the Chinese are also aware of.”

Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, also a Mandarin speaker, be­lieves the Dalai Lama has “brought

 

back to India a unique spiritual herit­age which had dissipated in the inter­vening centuries. We cannot calculate the Dalai Lama’s value or importance in political gains or losses. After so many years here, I can proudly say that he is now also owned by India”.

It seems Modi and BJP President Amit Shah, who cancelled a last-min­ute meeting with the Dalai Lama on the eve of Modi’s visit to China in May, have since rethought their hardline views. For the Tibetan leader’s June 21 celebrations in McLeodganj, Modi sent Union Minister for Culture Ma- hesh Sharma and Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju. “The government would like to reas­sure His Holiness that it holds him in the highest esteem”, Sharma said.

Towards the end of his interview with india today, the Tibetan leader indicated that he could, indeed, be the last of the Dalai Lamas, the very end or “ceasing” of the line. So much better, he said, to end the 600-year-

 

Graphic by SAURABH SING-

old institution with him (“who – quite popular”) than continue “to the 15th Dalai Lama who may turn out i be a disgrace”.

The Dalai Lama laughed f_- childlike laugh following his own r marks, but he seemed dead seriou- Perhaps he was making these re­marks with an eye to Beijing, so as deny them the opportunity to subven another sacred institution.

In this game of shadow-boxir: with China, perhaps the Dalai Lami stands no chance at all. But the fa remains that he is still around at S T smiling and laughing and exhortir: his audience to focus on the messa: es of the Nalanda philosophers sue : as Nagarjuna. Perhaps that is the real value of him spending all the— years in India, and

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