Photo From:
India has to be more courageous on Tibet issue

DHARAMSHALA: India should be more courageous and put forcefully the issue of Tibet before the Chinese, Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama said and added that the issue be linked to the border talks between the two countries.

At present the Indian government is 'overcautious' in taking up the issue with the Chinese but the post-Pokhran India which is stronger should show more courage, he said while talking to a group of visiting journalists.

Having installed Tibet's first directly elected govenment-in-exile which involved the Tibetan diaspora of nearly 1.3 lakh settled all over the world, the Tibetan leader said, Tibetans would never forget what India had done for them but with the population ratio of the Tibetans in Lhasa having been reduced to 15 Tibetans to 85 Chinese, it will not be long before the Tibetan culture would become moribund, he said.

In his first interaction with journalists after putting in place the directly elected government in exile, the Dalai Lama said he had no intention of appealing to the Indian government to take up the Tibetan issue with the Chinese during the forthcoming visit by the Chinese Prime Minister later this year.

Neither did he think that the Kanchi Shankaracharya would be able to take up the case of Tibet during his proposed visit to China. "The Kanchi seer is very spiritual minded. I don't know his knowledge of the Tibetan question", he said.

The Dalai Lama said that since the Chinese realised the importance of India, New Delhi should from time to time, express concern on the Tibetan issue.

He said the Tibetan struggle was getting increasing support the world over as nations were realising the bullying by a big nation. "Many nations are reflecting concern during their talks with the Chinese in spite of their economic relations with that country".

The Dalai Lama said with the Chinese planning a rail-road link with Tibet while admitting that the link would not be economical at this juncture, the Tibetans were facing the danger of losing their identity, their culture and their language.

"The Chinese have lost trust in the Tibetans. They think that once their (the Tibetans)" demand (for genuine autonomy) is accepted, the Tibetans would go for their demand for independence and genuine self-rule. It is clear the Chinese see Tibet, as a unique culture, as a threat. They, therefore, want full control on Tibet.

The Chinese strategy now is to wait till such time as when the composition of the population and the economy of Tibetan region changes (to such extent that the demand for autonomy dies down), he said.

The Lama, however, made it clear that until he was there, he stood by the demand for a genuine autonomy. "I will not ask for independence - when the genuine autonomy is granted to the Tibetans - that is my commitment", he said.

To a question on whether possible changes in China toward democracy would help Tibet achieve its goal, the Dalai Lama said, "these changes are beyond our control".

He said the present Chinese constitution itself provided for a solution to the Tibet issue. Democratisation of China was good for both, China and Tibet, but the present Communist constitution itself provided for autonomy to ethnic groups, he said.

He said what he was asking for was genuine self-rule provided for in the Chinese constitution - an arrangement that would preserve the Tibetan culture. "My proposal is that instead of small autonomies, the Chinese should agree to give autonomy to a larger Tibetan community", he said.

He said Tibet's relations with India were unique. "Culturally and spiritually, we consider ourselves close to India - the land of our Guru (The Buddha)".

He recalled that in reply to one of his letters, former Prime Minister Morarji Desai had said India and Tibet were two branches of the same 'Bodhi' tree. The Lama emphasised that the Tibetan issue was very much an Indian issue. Rivers flowing from Tibet bring water to India. Tibet works as a buffer between the long borders between India and China, he said.

Establishment of a happy society based on compassion and non-violence (in Tibet) will be beneficial to both India and China, the Dalai Lama said.

He is also aware of the struggle ahead. "Our struggle is not easy. We don't know how long it will take - it is a long struggle."

The Dalai Lama dismissed the possibility of the Tibetans waging an armed struggle to win freedom. "Where shall we get the weapons from? Where will the money come from and how will we transport to our people in Tibet?", he asked. He said the Tibetan Youth Congress was for independence but the youth leaders accepted his policy of non-violence.

To a question if non-violence would indeed win them freedom or autonomy, the Dalai Lama said what was the guarantee that violence would give the Tibetans their homeland. For the Tibetans, the loss of one Tibetan life mattered. To the Chinese, it did not matter if 10,000 Chinese died, he said.

Also, the Tibetan movement was gaining support from the world because of its policy of non-violence. "We will lose this support if the struggle takes a violent turn," he said.

An increasing number of Chinese intellectuals too were supporting the Tibetan people's struggle. This support too will go, the Dalai Lama said.

"As long as I am responsible, I am committed to non-violence," he said and added that if the Tibetans took to violence, he would quit as their leader.

The Tibetan leader said that after the recent attacks in the United States, he wrote a letter to President George Bush saying that violent methods will not be appropriate.

On the Kashmir issue also, I am for a meaningful dialogue between India and Pakistan. "I am told that the living standards of the people on the Indian side was better than the living conditions of the people on the other side. People deserve better life," he said.