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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Opinion: The Dalai Lama of Tibet in Tawang

November 11, 2009

By Bhuchung K. Tsering
November 9, 2009

His Holiness the Dalai Lama has arrived at the
famed Tawang Monastery in Tawang, Arunachal
Pradesh, in north-east India on Sunday morning.

The people of Arunachal Pradesh, as represented
by their Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, have
extended a grand reception to His Holiness when
he arrived in Tawang. Many Arunachalis
interviewed by the Tibetan language radios have
expressed their strong positive emotions at the
visit of their spiritual leader. In his first day
in Tawang, His Holiness has already opened an
exhibition (being the monastery’s collection and
composing of both religious and secular
artifacts) at Tawang Monastery and received a
report of the monastery’s activities from its abbot, Guru Rinpoche.

It was a bit amusing to see how the political
pundits, primarily in India, were having a field
day in recent times dissecting China’s statements
concerning the visit and predicting grave
calamities. The latest among them was the Indian
politician, Dr. Subramanium Swamy, who tweetered
on November 4 saying, “I hope the Indian
governmrnt is ready for a violent reaction from
the Chinese once Dalai Lama sets foot in Tawang
on Nov 6th.” Was he predicting China’s
declaration of war against India by his use of
the term "violent reaction"? Others were advising
the Indian Government to discourage His Holiness
from visiting Tawang with the implied meaning
that this might assuage theChinese Government.

Despite Chicken Little’s fears, the sky has not
fallen. I would be greatly surprised if the sky
did fall. It is my view that these commentators
had fallen prey to Beijing’s public relations
strategy. My hunch is that the recent Chinese
unusual outburst is not because they believe that
it would be in their interest if the Dalai Lama
did not visit Tawang. It is more to do with the
natural India-China competition as emerging
regional and global powers. To me, it seems China
is using the issue to gain political points that
could be used later on and to make India owe them one.

May be some in China have the view, as spelled
out by the Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo
in a writeup on YaleGlobal on September 8, 2009,
about Tawang’s implication to China for the
future. The Singapore Minister had referred to
the Dalai Lama saying “In a recent TV interview,
he said that he was born to accomplish certain
tasks, and as those tasks were not completed, it
was ‘logical’ that he would be reincarnated
outside China. Many believe that ‘outside China’
means Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh where the 6th
Dalai Lama came from, a Tibetan area controlled
by India but claimed by China. This would greatly
complicate the border demarcation between China
and India. Beijing, of course, insists on the old
rule that the appointment of high lamas must have its approval.”

If that indeed is the Chinese fear, anyone who
understands the Tibetan Buddhist spiritual
process would know that a true lama will choose
to take a rebirth in a place where he is needed
most and from where he can serve his congregation
and the broader humanity. In the past, when there
was an appropriate spiritual environment and
need, one of the Dalai Lamas was born in
Mongolia. So, the answer to this possible Chinese
concern can be got from the answer to the
question whether there is a possibility of an
appropriate spiritual environment in Tibet or
China when that time comes.. Just a thought!
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