Thursday, January 31, 2013

Panel Discussion on Tibet: Current Situation and its implication on China and India

  NEW DELHi: Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay and noted China experts Shri Lalit Mansingh, former foreign secretary of India and Shri Jayadeva Ranade, former additional secretary of the Indian Government as well as Kirti Rinpoche, the head lama of Kirti monastery, Dharamshala, discussed Tibet at a seminar at the India International Centre, New Delhi on 31 January 2013.

The Seminar titled “Tibet: Current Situation And Its implications For China and India” was organized by the Gandhi Peace Foundation and was moderated by Mr Karma Choephel, former speaker and current member of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

Speaking at the seminar, Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay said “Historically,Tibet was an independent country serving as a buffer between India and China. So whatever happens in Tibet today, has implications on both the sides”.
Sikyong Dr Sangay said the border dispute between India and China along the McMohan Line remains unresolved primarily because of the issue of Tibet. The Shimla Agreement, on the basis of which the McMohan Line was demarcated as the border between India and Tibet, was signed between British India and Independent Tibet in 1914. Therefore, if McMohan line is the preferred border for India, then the signatories vis-a-vis Tibet, has to be recognized, the Sikyong said.
He also said that Tibet is a test for the world as well as India and China because Tibetan democracy is, more or less, a replication of Indian democracy. Moreover, the Tibetan struggle is a non-violent struggle and if the world wouldn’t support it, it would send a mixed message, he said.
The distortion of historical facts by China by demarcating and re-demarcating Tibetan areas and imposing severe repression in Tibet is not the answer. Solving the Tibetan issue peacefully by restoring the dignity of Tibetans and safeguarding the Tibetan identity will be the beginning of moderation of China, the Sikyong asserted.
Venerable Kirti Rinpoche, the head lama of Kirti monasteries, where most of the Tibetan self immolations have taken place since 2009 spoke about the reasons why Tibetans are resorting to self-immolations. He said, self-immolations are taking place in Tibet because of the failed policies of the Chinese government.
The Chinese government, instead of addressing the genuine grievances of the Tibetan people are blaming the Dalai Lama and outside forces for the self-immolations in Tibet. Chinese authorities are further rounding up Tibetans, falsely accusing them of instigating self-immolations in Tibet, he said. At the time of seminar, he received information that of the  two Tibetans arrested recently, one was sentenced to death while the other sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Kirti Rinpoche also said that since Tibet and India are historical neighbors, it is the duty of india to take the responsibility of a good neighbor and help Tibet in its time of need.
Shri Lalit Mansingh, former Foreign Secretary of India talked about the recent developments in the three most important countries, namely China, India and the United States.
He said, in China, the leadership that has remained in power for the last 10 years has changed. As for India, The ancient traditions of India has been preserved by the Tibetans in the form of Buddhism and it is time to repay the Tibetans for this by by making the Tibet issue a core issue with China. And as for the United states, it had initially helped the Tibetans by secretly arming Tibetan guerillas but as the cold war progressed, their priorities changed and resorted to real politicking, he added.
He added, “What is happening in Tibet is like a volcano, ready to erupt. It can explode anytime when nobody is expecting it, which is why we need to understand what goes on in Tibet.”
The last speaker on the panel, Jayadeva Ranade, former Additional Secretary of the Indian government, spoke abut the recent developments in China. He said, leading Chinese government think-tank, The Chinese Academy of Social Science, has warned the Chinese government that the Chinese public are losing confidence in the party with growing views that party cadres are in league with businessmen.
He said, this growing dissatisfaction inside China has resulted in more than 180,000 protests across China.
He also said that he does not believe in the perception that China’s new leader Xi Jinping will be soft on the Tibetans. He cited the reason that Xi Jinping’s father himself was a victim of the cultural revolution but he went on to join the party which proves his belief in communism and the party line.
The panel discussion was followed by a question and answer session where questions on Tibet’s demands from China as well as India’s role in the Tibetan issue with China was discussed.


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