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Dalai directive part of grand bargain?

November 14, 2007

Indo-Asian News Service
Monday, November 5, 2007 (New Delhi)
The Indian government's directive to officials and ministers to stay 
away from a function to felicitate the Dalai Lama was part of a 
''grand bargain'' to win China's support for the nuclear deal and 
underlined New Delhi's desire not to risk its growing ties with Beijing.

''We are taking extra care not to offend the Chinese sensitivities. 
It is part of a grand bargain between India and China. China, a 
member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, won't give its support to the 
India-US nuclear deal for nothing,'' a highly placed source said.

China has so far been non-committal towards supporting the nuclear 
deal but has hinted that it will not stand in its way in the NSG.

''There is nothing new in this directive. This has been the policy of 
the Indian government after the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's 
visit to China in 1988 not to allow the Dalai Lama to address any 
political rally or a public gathering in India,'' Srikant Kondapalli, 
a China expert at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, said.

''As part of this understanding, the Indian government does not allow 
its officials or ministers to attend any function by the Dalai Lama. 
This is an old policy which was reiterated anew,'' he said.

''There is no change in India's Tibet policy. We have recognised the 
Tibetan Autonomous Region as part of China,'' he said.

New Delhi is extremely circumspect not to create any controversy that 
can cast a shadow over the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to 
Beijing, likely in the next two months.

Congress president and India's ruling coalition chief Sonia Gandhi 
visited China late last month, which was hailed by Beijing as a 
''milestone'' in the history of Sino-Indian relations.

The directive has, however, ''angered and saddened'' Tibetans here 
and activists for the Tibetan cause who said this move to appease 
Beijing flies in the face of logic and national interest.

''There was nothing political about this function. If this notice by 
the government has gone, this is indeed a sad thing,'' Acharya Yeshi 
Phunsok, a member of Tibetan parliament in exile, said.

''They should have attended the function as human beings. Everybody 
respects the Dalai Lama. People come from everywhere to get his 
blessings,'' he said.

''It was a public function. It was not supported by the government. 
We support the Tibetan people. The resolution of the Tibetan issue, 
as the Dalai Lama said, would help to better relations between the 
two countries,'' said Bashishta Narayan Singh, a Janata Dal (United) 
MP and convenor of the All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet.

Lack of diplomatic skills

The directive ''has demonstrated utter lack of diplomatic skills and 
national self respect on the part of Indian government,'' said a 
statement by Core Group for Tibetan Cause.

The Tibetan advocacy group asked the Indian government to award its 
highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, to the 72-year-old Nobel 
laureate, who has been in exile in India since 1959, and use its 
influence on the Chinese rulers of Tibet to solve the Tibetan issue 
through a peaceful dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

The group also exhorted the government to invite the Dalai Lama to 
address the joint session of the Indian parliament.

A circular issued by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrashekhar asked 
members of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's council of ministers to 
stay away from the function Saturday to felicitate the exiled Tibetan 
leader who has just returned from a visit to the US on winning the 
Congressional Gold Medal.

None of the ministers attended the function. Former Prime Minister I 
K Gujral and Bashitha Narain Singh, were, however present at the 

In his stirring speech, the Dalai Lama said the resolution of the 
Tibetan issue was crucial for ''genuine friendship'' between India 
and China.
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