CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay at Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony 2014. Image: DD

By N.S.Venkataraman

CHENNAI, 3 June: It is reported that leader of the Tibetan government in exile Mr Lobsang Sangey was not invited to Mr Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony for his second term as Prime Minister of India.

However, the Tibetan leader was invited for Mr Modi’s swearing-in ceremony for the first term in 2014. Why is this change now?

One cannot but get an impression that by denying the invitation to Tibetan leader, Mr Modi has gone out of the way to appease China and keep it in good humour. This is so, even as China is claiming that Indian province Arunachal Pradesh belongs to it and is occupying large Indian territory annexed by China during the 1962 Indo China war.

Millions of Indians who voted for Mr Modi overwhelmingly in the recent election as Prime Minister did so since Mr Modi is viewed as a strong man adhering to his principles and faith and not yielding to compulsions to achieve short term ends.

It is well known that China occupied Tibet in 1950s by invading the country and massacred thousands of Tibetans. The Dalai Lama had to flee to India with his followers to escape from the Chinese government and has been living in India since then.

Jawaharlal Nehru who was the Prime Minister of India then did not protest against China’s aggression and looked the other way even when China’s massacre continued in Tibet. Obviously, Jawaharlal Nehru who was a well-read historian and knows Tibet’s culture and background very well,l kept silent as he wanted to keep China in good humour and maintain good relations.  Hindi-Chini Bhai-Bhai, which means, in Hindi, “Indians and Chinese are brothers”  was Mr Nehru’s passionate slogan then.

However, China stabbed India and Mr Nehru at the back and started a war with India claiming Indian territory in 1962.

In the last several decades, China has not changed its methods and policies and believes in violence when convenient and clever strategies as per the needs with least regard for ethical standards or goodwill for other countries.

What causes concern about Mr Modi declining invitation to Tibetan leader is that whether Mr Modi no more lacks the will and the desire to stand against China on the basis of principles, for the sake of economic and trade gains. Several countries in the world are not speaking against China though several human rights violations are taking place in China and China’s occupation of Tibet, as they are more concerned about their trade relationship with China. Mr Modi now gives the impression that he is no different from others.

India has to necessarily protect the interests of Tibet and should not disown the interests of Tibet for the sake of political expediency. If Mr Modi would adopt such an approach, it would be a historical mistake as much as the historical mistake of Jawaharlal Nehru in dealing with China.

Pakistan has already lost itself to China and Sri Lanka and other smaller Asian countries are increasingly becoming vulnerable to China’s dictates. Should not India guard itself against such negative trends in dealing with China? Denial of invitation to the Tibetan leader is sending a disturbing signal.

Venkataraman is a trustee with the “Nandini Voice for the Deprived,” a not-for-profit organization that aims to highlight the problems of downtrodden and deprived people and supports their cause. To promote probity and ethical values in private and public life and to deliberate on socio-economic issues in a dispassionate and objective manner.

The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and should not be attributed to Tibet Express.

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