His Holiness the Dalai Lama has clearly and categorically said that his successor , the next Dalai Lama , would be from a free country like India. This has irritated the Chinese government , which has reacted to say that the next Dalai Lama would be appointed and approved by the Chinese government. Chinese government’s arrogant claim that the next Dalai Lama would be a person of Chinese government’s choice has naturally caused great concern amongst the Tibetans living in Tibet and in exile and the Tibetans living as citizens in different countries. USA has indicated that it would not approve the Chinese government appointed Dalai Lama. However, India has, so far, remained silent on this potential issue and has not expressed it’s stand . Perhaps, Government of India thinks that there is no need to comment at this stage , when the Dalai Lama is hale and healthy and is leading Tibetans with dignity and characteristic compassion , reflecting the philosophy of Buddhism in true spirit.
There is no doubt that most of the Indians have emotional attachment to the present Dalai Lama and welcomes him warmly with highest respect wherever he goes in India. His speeches are well listened with rapt attention by the people and publicized in the media. Certainly, Indians are proud that the Dalai Lama lives amongst them today and Indians have an ardent desire that Tibetans should get back the free Tibet , with the Dalai Lama at the helm.
The question is as to whether India will approve the next Dalai Lama who may be appointed by the Chinese government or India would insist that nomination made by the present Dalai Lama should be accepted universally.
As India is now going through the parliamentary election and there is huge expectation in India and abroad as to who would be the next Prime Minister, this question has received utmost importance . If Mr. Modi were to be the next Prime Minister, which most people believe would happen, there is absolutely no doubt that India would oppose appointment of the next Dalai Lama by the Chinese government. Certainly, a strong and principled Prime Minister like Mr. Narendra Modi will resist China’s move in whatever way possible. This will have overwhelming support amongst the cross section of Indians.
In the unlikely event of Mr. Modi not being the next Prime Minister and a coalition government would be formed in India with several regional parties joining together, Chinese government would play mischief, by influencing the political leaders in power of the weak government and would manipulate section of Indian media and create lobby in India to advocate support to China’s move to appoint the next Dalai Lama China is now adopting the same strategy in the case of weak Pakistan in several ways and would try to get it’s appointment of the next Dalai Lama approved by India.
India’s population is now constituted by more than 70% of Hindus and it is well known that the Hindus have an emotional attachment to Buddhism and it’s principles of peace and harmony. Lord Buddha was born in India and the Tibetans living in India today feel comfortable and do not face any animosity from the local population. Certainly, there would be no protest, if all the Tibetan refugees would be provided Indian citizenship.
Certainly, large section of Indians will rise and revolt ,if Indian government were to be so unprincipled to approve the next Dalai Lama appointed by Chinese government.
In any case, it is vitally important that the Tibetans living in different parts of the world should remain alert and start a worldwide campaign against any Chinese government’s move to appoint the next Dalai Lama. Tibetans living in Tibet at present cannot do much, as they are living in suppressed condition and with the news of any development being denied to them. They may not even know about Chinese government’s announcement that the next Dalai Lama would be appointed by the Chinese government. However, Tibetans living elsewhere and the sympathisers of Tibetan cause around the world should take up the issue in right earnest and start a vigorous movement to counter the Chinese government’s move. They should appeal to the Buddhist countries like Sri Lanka to take up the issue at the UNO, as it would infringe on the religious freedom of the Buddhists in Tibet.
It is sad that Tibetans living in exile and in different countries around the world appear to be giving an impression that they are helpless and merely acting like observers of fast developing scenario. It would be good that if the respected the Dalai Lama would lead the world wide movement to protect Buddhism in Tibet and ensure that any move of Chinese government to appoint the next Dalai Lama would be rejected by the world.
India’s support to ensure the holy character of the next Dalai Lama who should be nominated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama is necessary. Tibetans living in India are yet to be heard in a big way in Indian media. There is no time to lose ,as the Chinese government is known to be a clever and self centred schemer and would plan it’s strategies and implement it’s decisions with characteristic ruthlessness. Tibetans should not allow themselves to be caught unaware.
In 1950s when the Chinese occupied Tibet and massacred large number of protesting Tibetans , India under the Prime Ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru remained conspicuous by not reacting to the grave scenario. Many Indians protested at the attitude of Jawaharlal Nehru and bowing to public pressure, Nehru allowed the Dalai Lama and his disciples to enter India as refugees. This was all that “peace loving” Jawaharlal Nehru could do.
Now, Chinese government, finding that it could not get the approval of the Tibetans living in Tibet and elsewhere to it’s atrocious aggression , is trying to consolidate the control over Tibet by appointing the next Dalai Lama, who would virtually be a prisoner under the control of Chinese government.
At this juncture, India should not remain as spectator just as Jawaharlal Nehru did in 1950s. India should not repeat the historical mistake of allowing Chinese government to have it’s way and hopefully the next government under Mr. Narendra Modi would protect the Tibetan cause.
(Author N. S. 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 support 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.)
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