Much have written about the recent emotional outburst of the Tibetans, their violent protests, the rise of the more aggressive Tibetan youth, the Dalai Lama’s helplessness, the Tibetans’ march towards Tibet, the punitive measures inflicted by the Chinese army on the protesters, the Tibetans’ call to the world to boycott Beijing Olympics and so on. But the unforeseen desperation of the Tibetans has led me to several disturbing questions and apprehensions. Is it just the Olympian flare engineered to draw the world attention to the Tibetan Cause? Or is it the tip of the iceberg which lies buried in the future? Are the disillusioned Tibetans renouncing Dalai Lama’s ‘middle path’ and denouncing call for autonomy? Is this a prelude to the Jingoistic separatist movement? Can their independence struggle endanger Indian national security? Can we see Humphrey Huxley’s Dragonfire being enacted? Can the Tibetan issue cause a 1962 repeat? What will happen after the Dalai Lama’s demise? Will the Tibetan movement become a potent anti-China card for the US? Will the Indo-American friendship find a common masterstroke against China in the Tibetan cause? What will happen if China’s allegation that the Tibetans are in collusion with the Uighur separatists in Xinjiang becomes true? Will China not overreact at the slightest provocation over Tibet which it considers its frontline to enter Central Asia, West Asia and the Indian Ocean and which is rich in water resources and minerals?
All these apprehensions are not unfounded. For over half a century after the Dalai Lama fled from Tibet, the Tibetans have not seen their dreams coming true. Dalai Lama’s middle path and demand for autonomy have not softened the Chinese heart. China’s rise as a military and economic heavy weight has helped its domination over Tibet with a tighter grip. India, despite its sympathy for Tibetan cause has not been able to achieve anything substantial. The reported demographic engineering of the Chinese rulers in Tibet by pushing the Han Chinese to reduce the Tibetans to a minority and the alleged cultural genocide perpetrated by the Chinese rulers have angered the Tibetans. Despite heavy investment by China in Tibet for its rapid development, Tibetans view the Chinese with suspicion.
On March 21, a small group of Tibetans stormed into the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. A return march to Tibet was organized from Dharmashala to
Tibet. The first batch of 100 was stopped in Himachal Pradesh. Another group of 44 is in Punjab on their way to Tibet. Another batch of Buddhist monks was stopped in Sikkim. A Tibetan from Shillong tried to set himself on fire on March 26 at Rangpo, on the Sikkim-Bengal border. Besides, with the aid of electronic media, the Tibetan movement has acquired higher sensitivity and visibility across the globe. Dalai Lama was so disturbed by the violent outbursts of the Tibetans that he threatened with resignation if the violence continued. The Tibetan protest movement was well orchestrated. The Chinese Govt. was completely taken aback by this. The young Tibetans are disillusioned with India’s actions and the Dalai Lama’s directions. Dalai Lama’s is certainly losing control and the non-violent Tibetan Buddhist youths are having initiation into violence.
China, on the other hand, despite its praise for India, is suspicious about India’s motives. The suspicion is further deepened when the US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi lashed out at China in Dharmashala. China has complained against the security breach at the Chinese embassy in New Delhi and has also sought clarification from India about the report concerning the meeting between the Indian Vice President and Dalai Lama. It is nervous about India’s position on Tibet. Global strategic analyst Stratfor believes that Beijing was disturbed by the sight of Pranab Mukherjee and Condoleezza Rice jointly addressing the Tibet issue in Washington.
So the situation is extremely fluid. So far the Tibetan movement has not assumed the semblance of the hardcore separatist movements which cause assassination, kidnapping, hijacking and terrorist activities. But in view of the recent spurt in violence, I am afraid, if the movement veers towards the bloody path and India becomes the launch pad of such activities, India may well become the Chinese target and the ensuing enmity can result in disaster. Even if India is innocent and India is held accountable for any disturbance in Tibet, China may suspect the Indian hand and the enmity can lead to war. On the other hand, the USA may use India for its anti-China campaign. The issues likely to be raised are human rights violation and suppression of the Tibetans. Thus India may become a victim of US opportunism.
So India must be vigilant. The present policy of the Indian govt. is commendable. We may have sympathy for the Tibetans. Respecting our tradition, we must continue giving refuge to the Tibetans. But at a time when China’s appreciation for India as a power has started and a slow of measures like joint army, navy and air exercises, education pact, air link and trade, etc are being pursued and India is seeking NSG support from China, India can not avoid the promising path of prosperity. India should persuade China to settle for the long standing boundary issue. At the same time, India should arrange a meeting between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese rulers. In this connection, India can use the Russian connection. India, with the India-Russia-China axis dream, can spur Russia into diplomatic activism and settle for the Tibetan issue as well as the India-China boundary issue. This will certainly be helpful for the Tibetans to nurture their identity and culture. Besides, the India-China friendship will benefit not only Asia but also the whole world in the long run. After all, we are the two most populous countries of the globe with an infinite potential for the betterment of the human race. But if the Tibet issue remains unsolved for long, the Tibet time-bomb may blast any time and cause conflagration which can engulf India, too.