Time has come for India To Display It’s Tibet Card
Colonel Awadhesh Kumar, Veteran
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping at their “informal summit” in Wuhan, China
India had formidable defences on the North and North Eastern Front in the form of Himalayas itself and the buffer country of the Tibetans for thousands of years.
Then just few years after independence in 1947, the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, in his own wisdom, signed an agreement in 1954 with the Peoples Republic of China.
Under the agreement India accepted Tibet as a region of China.Though this agreement was never ratified by the Indian Parliament ever, it eventually led to forcible capture of entire Tibet.
It also led to a grand humiliation of India in 1962 where just about three Indian Army brigades fought against the PLA but India got “ defeated “. Whereas nearly 40 other Indian brigades were just getting to join the battle and the entire Indian Air Force was trying to break free from its restraints.
Then in 2003 even Atal Bihari Vajpayee heading a coalition government went ahead and signed yet another agreement recognizing that “the Tibet Autonomous Region is part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China”. The agreement signed by the Coalition government reiterated that it “does not allow Tibetans to engage in anti-China political activities in India”.
Due to this traditionally Govt of India has been involved in carrying out preventive arrests of Tibetans in India and enforcing restrictions on freedom of assembly during visits of Chinese leaders.
Though on the other hand, Jawahar Lal did not refuse but gave asylum to His Holiness Dalai Lama. India also permitted establishment and functioning of the Tibetan Govt in exile.
This Govt of Tibet is established at Dharamshala. Also as was covered extensively by India Today and other magazines long time back, there is a 15000 strong Special Force comprising Tibetans, itching to go inside Tibet for its liberation.
The strategic importance of Tibet cannot be over emphasised. It is the roof of the world, with vast mineral and natural resources. The Sindhu ( Indus ), the Brahmaputra, Yangtse, Yellow river, Mekong and the Salween all emanate from the expansive glaciers of Tibet together with thousands of their tributaries. These rivers have nurtured civilisations in various countries for centuries.
Kailash Mansarovar with its spiritual overtones tugs at the heartstrings of every Indian since thousand of years.
Historically, Tibet has been an independent nation till the 13th century when Genghis Khan and his hordes swept through China and ruled over the Chinese for a century.
During his grandson Kublai Khan’s reign, Tibet was ruled by a separate entity reporting directly Kublai Khan rather than to governor of any Province next to Tibet.
Thereafter, Tibet has been independent or paying tributes to Chinese Court countries depending on the strength of the reigning monarchs of Tibet and China.
It was only during the reign of the sixth Dalai lama, who was murdered in 1706, that China began to seriously interfere in the affairs of Tibet. After the fall of the Quing dynasty in 1913, Tibet expelled all Chinese officials and declared itself independent.
The signing of the Simla agreement in 1914 between the British, who had sent Francis Young husband to capture Lhasa and the Tibet government, granted full autonomy to Tibet under British Suzerainty.
However, the Communist party which came to power in China in October 1949 declared its intention to ‘liberate’ and proceeded to invade Tibet in 1950. Nehru led Government of India acquiesced to this naked aggression till our ‘Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai’ dream was rudely shaken in 1962.
Recently on the 20th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong, Chinese spokesperson Lu Kang stated that the Sino British Joint Declaration of 1984 was a historical document that no longer had any realistic meaning. Therefore taking this same cue from China the logical step for India should be to challenge the very legitimacy of the Chinese claim over Tibet.
With the Doklam crisis a few years back, India had demonstrated its WILL POWER to face the Chinese and they were forced to back down. As a revenge, the PLA planned carefully and intruded the LAC in Galwan area as a strategic move.
However things did not go as per their plan and they deliberately attacked the Commanding Officer and men of 16 BIHAR. To their folly they have suffered double the casualty and India instead of backing down, has re enforced its 14 Corps in Ladhak with three addition divisions ( ie one more Corps ).
Though the Chinese invested millions of dollars in Tibet to improve their military infrastructure, the Country as such has remained poor. The Chinese know that Tibet is a country over which its hegemony is suspect and so they have never cared for the Tibetans. Thus in spite of the road and rail and even some air bases, sustaining an army and air force at those altitudes in Tibet is a logistic nightmare.
The roads, railway and pipeline right from the depths of Chinese interior traverse over extremely hostile terrain of Tibet averaging 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level to reach Lhasa and few other towns.
Thereafter across rest of Tibet it has to reach the Chinese Occupied Areas of Ladhak that is Aksai Chin and then further south wards to Galwan and Pangong Tso. All the areas of Tibet and Indian Aksai Chin are wind swept and snow bound most of the year. The Chinese hold at its best is tenuous.
Additionally, all these pass through areas inhabited by restive ethnic Tibetans and Ladhakis who resent the taking over of their lands, interference in their culture, and resettling of the Han Chinese population on their homelands.
New Delhi thus has a strong ‘Tibet card’ against China, as the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Government in Exile and roughly 100,000-strong Tibetan exile community reside in India.
The Tibetans themselves have been campaigning for their freedom all over the world and protesting against the atrocities and Human Rights violations by the Chinese at UNO and other Capitals of the World.
The VOICE OF TIBET a radio station functioning from Norway has been challenging the Chinese ever day.
Under Narendra Modi, the Govt of India has been displaying its Tibetan Card since June 2014. The BJP government had invited the then Prime Minister of Tibet Govt in Exile for the Swearing in ceremony of PM Modi and his Cabinet.
Lobsang Sangay was accorded treatment almost on par with other South Asian heads of state present at the inaugural. In December 2016, the Dalai Lama was invited to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, for a ceremony honoring Nobel Peace prize winners, where he shared the stage with India’s then-president, Pranab Mukherjee.
In March 2017, the Tibetan spiritual leader was permitted to travel to Tawang, a town in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and one of the main sites of contention in an escalating Sino-Indian border dispute.
In July, even as Sino-Indian tensions at Doklam were soaring, India allowed Sangay to unfurl the Tibetan flag at Pangong Tso on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
India has already retaliated economically against the Chinese hegemony by banning 59 Chinese apps causing estimated futuristic loss in billion of dollars. Also all Chinese investment in India are under scanner or banned. Militarily India has taken a very strong position and must continue to prepare for a two front War. Now is also the right time to play the Tibetan Card in a calibrated manner over the next few years. India action should be on the following lines :
• Take up the cause of these oppressed people of Tibet at all forums to force China to recoil.
• Take up the cause of oppressed Indians of Gilgit Baltistan and the people of occupied Baluchistan as the CPEC passes through and connects these two areas.
• Honour Dalai Lama by bestowing a Bharat Ratna
• Request His Holiness to initiate the process of selection of the future Dalai Lama
• Hold a Indo Tibetan Conference at Tawang or Itanagar
• Negotiate and ratify an Indo Tibetan International Boundary on the lines of 1914 Shimla Agreement
Since Tibet is a ‘core’ issue for China as stated by them, the shift in India’s position on this matter would be seen as “a challenge to China’s territorial integrity.” China can then be expected to react to this with violence. We should be prepared and ensure our own intrusion into suitable areas to be enlarged into an Offensive in case required.