Modi Governments First Big Mistake In The Second Term; Ignores Tibetan Leaders: OpEd

The leader of the Tibetan government in exile Lobsang Sangey was not invited to Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony held in the capital New Delhi. However, the Tibetan leader was invited for Modi’s swearing-in ceremony in 2014 and ignored in 2019 – Why? 

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One cannot but get an impression that by denying the invitation to Tibetan leader, PM Modi has gone out of the way to appease China and keep Beijing in good humour. This is so, even as China is claiming that Indian province Arunachal Pradesh belongs to it and is occupying large Indian territory annexed by China during the 1962 Indo China war.

Millions of Indians who voted for Modi overwhelmingly in the recent election as Prime Minister did so since Modi is seen as a strong man adhering to his principles and faith and not yielding to compulsions to achieve short term ends.

It is well known that China occupied Tibet in 1950s by invading the country and massacred thousands of Tibetans. The Dalai Lama had to flee to India with his followers to escape from the Chinese government and has been living in India since then.

Jawaharlal Nehru who was the Prime Minister of India then did not protest against China’s aggression and looked the other way even when China’s massacre continued in Tibet.

Obviously, Jawaharlal Nehru who was a well-read historian and knows Tibet’s culture and background very well and kept silent as he wanted to keep China in good humour and maintain good relations. Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai, which means, in Hindi, “Indians and Chinese are brothers” was Nehru’s passionate slogan then.

However, China stabbed India and Nehru at the back and started a war with India claiming Indian territory in 1962. In the last several decades, China has not changed it’s methods and policies and believes in violence when convenient and clever strategies as per the needs with least regard for ethical standards or goodwill for other countries.

What causes concern about Modi declining invitation to Tibetan leader is that whether Modi no more lacks the will and the desire to stand against China on the basis of principles, for the sake of economic and trade gains. Several countries in the world are not speaking against China though several human rights violations are taking place in China and China’s occupation of Tibet, as they are more concerned about their trade relationship with China. PM Modi now gives the impression that he is no different from others.

India has to necessarily protect the interests of Tibet and should not disown the interests of Tibet for the sake of political expediency. If PM Modi would adopt such an approach, it would be a historical mistake as much as the historical mistake of Jawaharlal Nehru in dealing with China.

Pakistan has already lost itself to China and Sri Lanka and other smaller Asian countries are increasingly becoming vulnerable to China’s dictates. Should not India guard itself against such negative trends in dealing with China? Denial of invitation to Tibetan leader is sending disturbing signal.