The Dalai Lama's Subtle Politics

Why was such a noise made about the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh?

He is in exile. But from his utterances it does not appear so. He first fled to Tawang from Tibet in 1959; his attachment to the place is understandable. However, he ought to understand that he should not speak about Indian politics:

“My stand that Tawang is an integral part of India has not changed.”

The report has called it his defence of the host country. In all likelihood this will work as mocking China, not because of the Tibetan issue but the Maoist one. It probably suits the central government’s purpose.

His statement:

“It’s usual for China to oppose my visit. It’s baseless to say my trip is anti-China. My visit is not political at all”

reeks of politics. Right from the start a statement is being made.

Even more surprising is his stand on Tibetans in India:

“The other reason why I am happy is that the people here take genuine interest in Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhist culture. Right from Ladakh to Tawang, Tibetan Buddhism is practised traditionally.”

Buddhism, yes. But Tibetan Buddhism? The Dalai Lama was given a place to set up home with his followers; it is only natural that they will go out for work opportunities. Hasn’t it struck anyone as rather naïve of us to let the Tibetan version spread?

The Tibetan right to a homeland is valid, but the Dalai Lama’s idea of being a travelling salesman to “promote human values, and promote harmony” needs a rain check.

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There’s more here on India and the Dalai Lama’s Middling Path


  1. Oh Farzana,
    i do not know if you realise it that Communists of China got a lucky break from you. They have politicised every move of Dalai Lama .No body had known where was Tawang till Chinese regime created a raucus.
    They do not know that world admires the progress they have done in material things but nobody can respect annihilistic structure of faith in China without loosing one's humanity. Dalai Lama for his humanity and middle path is admired world over.

    State capitalism in a communist society can be lethal combination for human spirit.

  2. Farzana,
    You said : "In all likelihood this will work as mocking China, not because of the Tibetan issue but the Maoist one. It probably suits the central government’s purpose."
    What is the point you are trying to make here ?

  3. The positive outcome of this ( for the NorthEast) is that at least by now some Indians would have heard about a place called "Tawang" in a state called "Arunachal Pradesh" which is actually a part of India! Maybe they would think for a second before asking " Do I need a visa to visit Arunachal/ Sikkim/ etc. etc.".( Yes you do, take it from the Chinese! ) A whole lot of patriotic Indians will now go into overdrive, defending Dalai Lama, Tibet, Tawang, Arunachal against the evil designs of the Chinese! ( Of course it's not as much fun as defending Kashmir from Pakistan, the evilest of them all!)

    India pissed off China badly when they granted him asylum. That's a risk India took. But I think they have not been able to exploit this situation diplomatically to India's advantage.. otherwise they would have forged strong ties with the Buddhist SouthEast Asian nations ( which are now under strong Chinese influence). And now allowing the Dalai Lama to provoke China from Indian soil is just so dumbo..China is not Pakistan ( or for that matter India)... Some day they will just quietly give marching orders to their soldiers, and then we will be in a spot. American diplomacy won't be able to save us from Chinese wrath.

  4. just a rejoinder to my comment above:
    "But I think they have not been able to exploit this situation diplomatically to India's advantage.."
    By "they" I mean Govt. of India, the political class, the bureaucrats or whoever is involved in deciding our foreign policy. Not us, the common people, of course.

  5. you sound too dissapointed with the fact that a respected figure in the world finds India and Indians somewhat agreeable..

    your kind are always at odds whererver they stay.Maybe the desert is the place you ought to be.

  6. I hoped at least some of you would read my earlier Dalai Lama piece that I had linked…anyhow…

    Kul Bhushan:

    I am not fan of China, but it does not follow as a natural progression that one must not question the Dalai Lama. His ‘middle path’ is being questioned by his own followers. And I am not the only one to have written about it. Please read it to understand his views on protest. If China has politicised his every move, then he has done so as well under the garb of ‘holiness’.

    i do not know if you realise it that Communists of China got a lucky break from you

    That was funny!


    The reports of the visit clubbed together evidence of arms being provided to the Maoists by the Chinese. We know what the government is doing with the movement within and the Dalai Lama in Arunachal would be India’s way of further needling them as straightforward knowledge does not work. It is essentially positing one against the other for a third reason.

    The Dalai Lama would be happy enough to do it because he is anyway not seeking independence for Tibet; the stakes are soft.


    Your second comment was understood first! We the people have no say. Yes, Tawang has become the flavour of the season, with no one asking about what the government is doing about the other North East states.

    The problem is that China as aggressor does not need a Tibet issue to hit out at us, something which seems difficult to understand for many.

    You are right in that we need to understand the support system we provide more carefully. Also, this is not the old China; it has revamped itself to make America look like Little Brother by its sheer playing of the same game.

  7. Anon:

    Unlike some Indians, I do not believe that India needs to live on the charity of 'respect' from those who have been provided for by us.

    When you have the courage to out yourself, then tell me or anyone where they ought to live. Rajasthan is a desert too...

  8. Farzana,
    Past couple of months Indian Government's stand on relation with China has been condradictory and immature. Dalai Lama doesn't necessarily fit in the pattern, though, because despite chinese insistence government could never deny him Indian visa. It could'd been diplomatically suicidal for India. What he says here in India - a purely opportunistic step - is something which the Indian government couldn't control. Heck, it can't even control statements made by its own Secretary about chinese arming Maoists - only to be corrected later by the Home ministry. A typical egg on the face situation.
    OTOH, India is partnering with China (among others including Brazil, Russia) to build a
    trade block. Even the "Brahmaputra River Dam" was handled rather gracefully by Indian government. (Actually, credit fully due to Dr. Manmohan Singh for a very mature approach on the issue in particular - and relation with chines , in general). The contradictory behavior at times hints at anti chinese lobby at work within the government.
    P.S: For those interested in the "Brahmaputra Dam" issue - article at link below provides a wonderful template for analysis.

  9. Mahesh:

    You have pinned it right: Anti-Chinese forces withing the government. And, this water issue has been left largely ignored in the Indo-Chinese 'dispute'. Thanks for the link.

    I do believe that the Indian government can put some pressure on the Dalai Lama; his political utterances are certainly not in keeping with the spirit of his refugee status. It will only alienate the lay public from the valid Tibetan cause.

  10. I suppose it'd not do to point out that this is a democracy and the right to free speech extends even to aliens.
    besides what has the man really said. nothing offensive or aggressive.
    p.s. it is sakyamini gautama's middle path(4th century b.c) and not the dalai lama's.

  11. We have selective ideas of free speech and we treat our own people as aliens. Let us get over these pat feel-good 'he has not said anything offensive' statements.He has talked about Tibetan autonomy within China sitting here as an asylum-seeker.

    PS: Thanks, I do know about the Buddha's spiritual middle path which the Dalai Lama has made his own as a political idea. It is there in his works. Like B R Chopra made the 'Mahabharata'.


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