China-India border dispute and Dalai Lama
India has changed. So have some other countries. But there is no change in China. It is the same--bullish, expansionist and violent. The country had agreed to withdraw and ease the tension on Ladakh border last week. But, as in the past, it broke the promise soon thereafter, moved into our territory and clashed with our soldiers, resulting in casualties on both sides. An official statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs tells it all.
China's unilateral attempt to change the status-quo on the Line of Actual Control has led to violent clashes, Foreign Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava has said in the statement. The loss could have been avoided. Talks are on to reduce the tension. He has also said that China did not respect mutual consent. "We are committed to peace, but the Sovereignty will always be maintained and there will be no compromise with security and territorial integrity”, he has added.
China should understand that India is no longer the India of 1962. "Force will be met with force", Lal Bahadur Shastri, then Prime Minister had said after war with Pakistan in 1965.The present PM Narendra Modi is no different.
In 1962, the countrymen will recall, China had occupied a large part of our territory. It has tried several times after that to capture our land further. All these attempts have been foiled.It had recently deployed troops again on the Line of Actual Control (LAC ) in Ladakh. Our army men were face to face with them for nearly two months. Sensing the mood, China agreed to resolve the border dispute through negotiations which were held at different levels. But it backstabbed again.
The Indian Army and the Air Force are fully prepared to meet all eventualities. The two countries, as is known, have a long border, spanning 4048 square kilometres. It has been divided into three sectors-- Western Sector (Ladakh),Middle Sector(Uttarakhand, Himachal),and Eastern Sector (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh).
Dalai Lama's silence
Another surprising part is that the spiritual leader of Tibet and ruler, the Dalai Lama, has remained silent on the aggression by China. Not a word has been uttered by him. India had provided shelter to the Dalai Lama in 1959 during the Nehru government along with thousands of his followers. China had not liked it. We had hardly cared. Since then, we have been giving all kinds of help to the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama should have exposed China and made its expansionist policies known to the world on this occasion; in return. The spiritual guru has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace and is regarded with respect by the whole world with respect. India has also respect for him. As such, his words can carry weight. His utterances would have mattered a lot this time. His silence is killing.
When will Tibetans surround Chinese Embassy?
Before the 1962 Indo-China war, the Embassy of India used to be in Tibet's capital, Lahsa. During the war, we closed the embassy on our own. That in a way helped China unilaterally take over Tibet. Thousands of Tibetans along with the Dalai Lama came to India. The third and fourth Tibetan generations are young. They also live in large numbers in Delhi. Apart from this they are also living in Dehradun , Dharamshala and Sikkim. The Tibetan youth protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Delhi at least once a year when China celebrates its National Day on October 1.Despite heavy bund bust by the Delhi Police, some youngsters try to scale the wall of the Chinese Embassy. They demand freedom and withdrawal of Chinese forces from Tibet. Shouldn't these Tibetans protest against China for its actions against India and surround the Chinese Embassy?
The Government of India took every possible step to rehabilitate Tibetan refugees in India. Plans were made and implemented in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and several other states of the country. If we talk in particular about the capital, a colony was set up for them at Majnu Ka Tila. Thousands of Tibetans live there. Similarly, a Tibetan market was built at Janpath in Delhi's Connaught Place in 1967.In this market, idols, shawls, paintings and Tibetan artefacts are being sold. They can also join the protesters.
The BRICS countries should also join and play roles. Besides India, Brazil, Russia and South Africa are its members in addition to China. Over 40 percent of the world's population lives in BRICS countries. They matter in fields like finance, business and science and technology. One of the BRICS countries is treating another group country like an enemy. Why are others silent? Russia's silence is most surprising. India has an old and historical relationship with Russia. But it is not yet ready to utter a word at this time. Why? India may also ask this question to other countries.
They may learn a lesson or two from Australia. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had joined hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass on a strong message to China. Both countries have asked China to have respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India. The two countries have used each other's military bases to contain China's growing influence in the Indian Ocean. Australia is angry with China for spreading Coronavirus. It has demanded compensation. Some other countries have joined hands. Australia has done something more. During the World Health Organization meeting it has angered China by supporting the proposal of the European Union. Australia is not yet ready to bow down to China. BRICS members can draw an inspiration from Kangaroos.
As far India is concerned, its troops are ready to defend the country all along the borders from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. The country is fully geared to face the challenges to be posed by China. China is also well aware that the present day India is not Nehru's India, who had defended China in Parliament by saying that nothing grows in 83,000 kilometres of Aksaichin captured by China. A bald MP rubbing his scalp then had pointed towards Nehru's bald head and joked “all the ganjas (bald) should be beheaded then”. We have now a new leader. There is a marked difference between the two. The change is not always for the good. But it is this time.
(The writer is a Senior Editor, Columnist and former Member of Parliament)
June 17 2020