Thursday, February 29, 2024

Bharat Ratna for Dalai Lama? The one who chose silence on Doklam, Galwan Valley?

The sudden demand of around 20 MPs, including from BJP, to bestow Bharat Ratna to Dalai Lama, should be consigned to back waters. 

Agreed, he is fighting for the cause of Tibet since decades against the Chinese regime, he hardly qualifies for the top Civilian award of India. 

Apart from several Indians starting from C. Rajagopalachari in 1954, Bharat Ratna has been given to many Indians who have made lasting impressions in their respective fields. 

It has been awarded to a naturalized Indian citizen, Mother Teresa in 1980, and to two non-Indians, Frontier Gandhi, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan of Pakistan in 1987 and the former South African president Nelson Mandela in 1990. 

While India adores frontier Gandhi and considers him as their very own and Mandela is a revered soul all across the world. An anti-apartheid icon who took inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi in his struggle, he was a symbol against the revolting racial apartheid in South Africa. Allow me to say that Dalal Lama looks diminutive in front of the likes of Mother Teresa, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela.  

Those who are demanding the top honour for Dalai Lama must  know that the spiritual leader was missing from the scene during the height of India-China stand-off in Doklam and Galwan valley. The moot question is: Why was  the Dalai Lama and his fellow Tibetans living across India choose to remain silent? Why Dalai Lama did not took  China head-on over its imperialist designs and create an opinion against the dragon for threatening war against India? For somebody who got the Nobel peace prize, that was a perfect opportunity to launch an all-out attack against China.Yet, the Dalai Lama preferred to keep quiet.

The two Asian giants have close to 3,500 miles of border, which is a disputed one.It would be an understatement to say that the situation was grave and serious as thousands of soldiers from the world’s two largest countries were facing each other eyeball-to-eyeball. Amid all this, the leader from Tibet was not visible at all.That was the time when he could pro-actively use his good office and stature to appraise the top leaders of the world. Further, he could tell them how the brutal Chinese government is treating the people of Tibet and Muslims in Xinjiang.

It was over six decades ago on 17 March 1959 when the Dalai Lama left Lhasa. And on 26 March 1959, he reached Lhuntse Dzong, a few days march from the McMahon Line, the border between India and Tibet.The Dalai Lama had written to Prime Minister Pt Jawaharlal Nehru as he sought refuge in India. And once Nehru got the request, he immediately decided to grant asylum to the Dalai Lama and his close aides.

Jawaharlal Nehru had replied to the Dalai Lama: “My colleagues and I welcome you and send you greetings on your safe arrival in India. We shall be happy to afford the necessary facilities for you, your family and entourage to reside in India. The people of India who hold you in great veneration will no doubt accord their traditional respect to your person.”

And since then, the Dalai Lama has been considered among the most respected citizens of India who holds a position of esteem. And he too, describes himself as the “son of India” as he hailed the secular principles of the country.

In an interview, the Dalai Lama said, “I am living in India since 1959 and hence, I am a son of India.” The Nobel laureate made this remark in his speech after inaugurating an international seminar on Buddhism in Bihar’s Nalanda district couple of years ago.

The Tibetan spiritual leader sermonised China to learn from India about democracy which brings harmony among people of different languages and ethnic backgrounds.

“In India, there is harmony in society, which has different languages and scripts. Democracy in this country is very deeply rooted not because of the country’s poor conditions, but because of transparency,” the Dalai Lama once told Thailand’s leading English daily Nation in an interview.

These euphemistic notions are fine while you are giving an interview to a newspaper or addressing a seminar. But, when it was mattered the most, he remained silent.

Surely, India needs active support from the Dalai Lama when it was facing a war-like situation. Sadly enough, it was missing. He has not uttered even a word against the ulterior designs of China. Why?

Dalai Lama could have spoken the truth. India does not expect that he becomes our spokesperson.

And the same is true for the Tibetans living in India. They freely protest against the repressive Chinese regime for inflicting atrocities on the residents of Tibet. There are roughly 100,000 Tibetans living in India. Although they are often referred to as “refugees”, it is a different matter that many of them have got Indian citizenship.

According to India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986, anyone born in India between 26 January 1950, and 1 July 1987, is an Indian citizen. This makes a large section of the exiled Tibetan community in India eligible for Indian citizenship. Many of them are applying for citizenship too.

For a long time, these Tibetans have protested as a matter of principle as and when any big Chinese leader visit Delhi. Some of them even climb the wall of the Chinese Embassy.

Even though the cops beat them and prevent them from creating nuisance, that doesn’t stop them from protesting. This is the freedom they are enjoying in India. Yet, like their leader, they hardly protest against Chinese regime when the Red Army try to intrude the Indian border. They have not organised even a single protest march in Delhi or any part of the country.  In the light of these facts, Dalai Lama should not be considered for the top honour.

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