Let the Karmapa not spoil Sino-Indian ties   (15 Jan 2000)

 

I am of the view that the Government of India should not take up any confrontation with China over the issue of Karmapa Lama Orgyen Trinley Dorji.


After prolonged effort since 1986 India has improved its relationship with China and vice versa. It has been noticed that China also has not been doing anything against India during this period.


Now, on the small issue of the Karmapa Lama, we should not negate efforts made in the last 13 years. For India, friendship with China is more important than fighting the dead issue of Tibet. We should get over the old hangovers of our diplomacy and review our foreign policy in a new perspective, keeping the geographical and economic situation in mind.


Leave apart the Karmapa, I think fighting for the Dalai Lama is also waste of time and energy, unnecessarily spoiling our relationship with a powerful neighbour. If the Dalai Lama is not interested in taking on China, then why should we fight his battle? India has extended enough support to him; in future too we should keep co-operating with the Dalai Lama, since he is an outstanding spiritual leader.


I interviewed the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala a couple of years ago and I got the impression that he wants to somehow settle the issue with China. It seems he only wants to be the cultural head of Tibet and does not expect anything else from the Chinese government. He has given up his old stand of becoming the ruler of Tibet.


That is natural. How long can one fight? Now, at his age, he might like to avoid confrontation and return back to his homeland. In fact, the Government of India should help bring broker a compromise between the Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama. Some politicians in our country still have the same old notions about Tibet and they India to take on China. Their numbers include Defence Minister George Fernandes.


But in the new world order, our priorities have changed. India now has to concentrate more on becoming an economic power now. It should take certain lessons from China in this regard.


Today China has emerged as one of the biggest economic powers in the world. Unlike the USSR, they changed their policies and, despite being a Communist nation, forcefully adopted the path of economic reform and liberalisation. Multinationals get the best facilities in China and, with rising exports, China is able to keep its population happy and prosperous.


India should concentrate on economic growth as well as on becoming a global economic power. As long as we keep getting involved in the politics of confrontation and issues like the Karmapa, we cannot achieve this goal.


We have already got a neighbour who keeps pricking us and I dont think we should create another enemy at this stage, that too one that is a superpower. If we want to fix Pakistan, we should have better relations with China. Even if it does not support us, even if the Chinese remain neutral in the Indo-Pak conflict, it will be of great help.


At the same time, we should have cordial relations with the Dalai Lama and must ensure that his stay in India continues to be as comfortable as it was. After all, he is a follower of the Buddha and every Indian is emotionally and religiously attached to the Buddha.


The Buddha is also our god and India can initiate the process of bringing all Buddhist nations together. Lord Buddha can be the uniting bond amongst several nations and India can take a lead in this direction.

 
In fact, the Government of India should be very, very careful while handling the issue of the Karmapa. So far, we do not have any concrete information about him and the purpose of his mysterious and controversial visit. Our intelligence agencies were also caught unawares.


There were several reports in a section of press that he might also be a mole of the Chinese government. He is also being branded by others as an absconder from China. Since we do not have the facts, we should not get involved in this controversy.


India should speak to the Chinese foreign office on this matter and action in the matter should be taken by mutual consent.

Rajeev Shukla