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'Chela' Dalai asks 'Guru' India to help Tibet

November 23, 2008

Times of India
November 21, 2008

DHARAMSHALA -- In a rare statement involving India in the Tibetan
issue, the Dalai Lama on Thursday directly asked New Delhi to help
resolve the crisis that has been at the centre of strained border
ties between Asia's two biggest nations.

"India and Tibet have the relationship of a 'guru and chela' (master
and disciple), and when the chela is in trouble, the guru must look
after him," the Dalai Lama said, speaking at a private function of an
Indian organisation here.

The statement may put New Delhi in a fix as it has repeatedly said
that Tibet was not a part of the border dispute. India also has said
many times that it won't allow the Tibetans in exile to carry on
"anti-China political activities" from its soil.

Though the Tibetan leader has talked of the guru-chela relationship
on a few occasions in the past, this is the first time that he has
asked India to help resolve the issue by rescuing Tibet from the
trouble it is facing. The statement assumes more significance as it
has come in the middle of the week-long conclave of 600 Tibetan
community leaders who are discussing and preparing the future
strategy of the Tibetan movement.

"This appeal to New Delhi is really important. It shows that the
Tibetan struggle may be at a turning point," said a high official of
the Tibetan government in exile, speaking on condition of anonymity
as he is not authorised to comment on the Tibetan leader's statement.

The statement of the Tibetan leader, who has kept himself away from
the November 17-22 conclave to so as not to "hamper the free
expression of opinions of the participants", certainly infused a new
energy into the delegates who have been analysing crucial issues like
the Dalai Lama's "middle-path approach", his succession, negotiations
with China and the all-important topic of independence at the
conclave which was kicked off on Monday.

Though there has been a difference of opinion on the future strategy,
particularly on the issue of independence, the majority of delegates
agree that bilateral talks with China are not serving any purpose.
"Our committee is going to press for change in the strategy for any
future negotiations with China," said Youdon Aukastang, an MP of the
Tibetan parliament in exile and a delegate at the conclave.

But, a change in the dialogue may not be that easy. An indication of
this came on Thursday when the Dalai Lama's elder brother, Gyalo
Thondup who ran a guerrilla resistance movement against the People's
Liberation Army with the help of CIA in the 60s, urged the Tibetan
leaders to continue their engagement with China. Thondup, whose
meeting with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 began a series of
contacts between Tibetans and the Chinese leadership, said the talks
should continue "because we have no choice". The Dalai Lama's
brother, a former chairman of the Tibetan cabinet (Kashag) in
Dharamshala, spoke publicly on Thursday after comments by a Chinese
official last week denying that Deng Xiaoping had said that "except
independence all other issues can be settled through discussions".

But, after the Dalai Lama's statement on Thursday evening, now all
eyes are fixed on November 23, when the Dalai Lama speaks to the
press after receiving a report on the conclave from the heads of 15
committees which will make their presentations on Friday and Saturday.
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