Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tibet Freedom-A non Issue

We don't demonstrate to get the partition undone. Why should Tibet be any different?

If we, in India, are still expected to empathise with the Tibetan cause, a long 49 years after the event, then we've our thinking mixed up. In that case, why don't we demand back the homeland that Punjabis left behind in what became Pakistan in 1947 and Bengalis in its former eastern enclave? Pakistan and what's now Bangladesh were at one time their country, too, rich with all their unique traditions and cultures. Their tragedies were infinitely greater than are those of the handful of Tibetans who have found a comfortable refuge in the cool climes of Dharamsala.

We don't demonstrate to get the partition of India undone because it's a settled fact, accepted by us, by nations at large, and by history. There may still be individuals and groups who continue to dream of a Greater Bengal or a reunified India, but the Shamjhauta and Maitri Expresses show we have learnt to leave the past behind and are happy to live with our present.

Why should Tibet be different? Because there were human rights violations in Lhasa? Because Tibet was "occupied" by the Chinese? Rights violations must be condemned. But if rights abuses mean we should stop dealing with all countries where they occur, we'd be stopping to deal with almost every country in the world. And, wasn't Australia occupied by outsiders, too? Wasn't the United States? Wasn't Israel carved out of Palestinian territory? But these have become part of history now and the world has come to accept it. We should remember that China "occupied" Tibet on the same excuse we used to "occupy" Goa and Sikkim, and are now using to hold our own in Kashmir.

And what was Tibet when the Dalai Lama fled in 1959? The Potala, essentially, where he resided and held his court, and a string of monasteries. The rest of the country was plunged in a medieval state of undevelopment. The Dalai Lama fled with his riches and some 80,000 of his immediate followers. What was threatened in Tibet was only his authority and that of the lamas. His worry about the death of tradition in Tibet is exaggerated by his politics. Faith is a personal matter of those who want to be faithful and doesn't require his presence in the Potala. If the Vietnamese in socialist Vietnam or in the US can continue to practise their faith if they so desire, so can the Tibetans in Tibet or in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Switzerland, or wherever they may happen to have settled. After all, no monastery has been shut down in Lhasa and there are monasteries in Dharamsala.

The Chinese "occupation" of Tibet, therefore, can't be said to be anti-Buddhist. And it can't be reversed unless nations want to provoke a world war with China, which they don't. We must understand that. It's China's business how they want to develop Tibet. If Tibetan Chinese alone aren't enough to build the remote, undeveloped territory, almost half the size of India, what's wrong with bringing over other Chinese to help out? Why should we be persuaded by the American propaganda of a Han invasion?

The recent flare-up of Tibetan patriotism over the Olympic torch relay in New Delhi shows that there's something else we must understand. It concerns the refugees. They are our internal affair and, since we've no intention to use them as a stick against the Chinese, we must settle the matter soon.

We are bound by our word that we won't drive the refugees back into Tibet. But we can't have refugees in perpetuity. Forty-nine years is too long a time for any refugee group to make up its mind, either to move on to another refugee-friendly country — like the US, where many from Dharamsala have migrated — or to merge with the native population and earn equal democratic rights. For too long have the refugees enjoyed a charmed existence. They don't live in slums, like the refugees from Pakistan did and some still do, but in communities removed from the natives. Those born in India are entitled to Indian citizenship. Others are given certificates of identity to hold Indian jobs, take part in Indian economic activities, and travel abroad. But they won't give up their isolated existence, their separate identity, and the special government-in-exile that looks after their own affairs.

That's not fair. It was necessary for a certain period, but not anymore. It's time for New Delhi to ask the Dalai Lama and his followers to do the inevitable reckoning. India has been patient with them. Now they must return their gratefulness in kind, becoming part of the Indian polity, disbanding the government-in-exile, and accepting New Delhi's jurisdiction over their social and economic welfare. The Dalai Lama should stop misleading his followers with hopes that can no longer be fulfilled.

Source : Business-Standard,
Barun Roy: An outlived issue

1 comment:

Windflower said...

The reason that Tibet needs to be uninvaded, is that unlike the Indians, they have no homeland. The correct comparison is not with "Indians" (in reality, a blending of many cultures), but rather with the jews. Maybe if the Chinese invaded India, and left no homeland for the Indian culture to exist unmolested, you might understand.

It is true that there have been horrors in the past, for many races, including my own; but that should not be used as justification for the extinction of yet another culture. Thats like saying; "Hey, the jews were burned, so that allows us to burn all Bengalis".

My feelings are that China is big enough; it doesnt NEED to grab hold of a bleak plateau from which it can point guns at India. The same holds true, in my opinions, for the Kurds, and the Amazonian Indians. Every race should be allowed to decide for itself, and to live on its historical area.

My race eventually threw out the british, as did yours; and now my race is embracing multiculturalism - thats its choice. People have a right to self-determination. Your assumption that this is not the case, is the basic flaw in your opinion-piece. As long as the Tibetans want the Dalai Lama returned to the Potola, and to worship and feed themselves in any way; that will is paramount.

No amount of ethnic cleansing changes that right. The longer it continues, the worse the crime against humanity. Because when you strip one persons rights, you strip everyones. As Ghandi would have informed you.