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India’s Tibet Policy

India’s Tibet Policy:

Some Chinese nationals protested against the celebration of the birthday of the Dalai Lama in India.

  • The Dalai Lama and Tibet is one of the major irritants between India and China relations.
  • China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist, who has great influence over Tibetans.
  • India seeks to use Tibetan card in order to counter China’s continuing aggression at the Line of Actual Control.
  • For centuries, Tibet was India’s actual neighbour, as most of India’s boundaries and the 3500km LAC is with the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and not the rest of China.
  • In 1914, it was Tibetan representatives, along with the Chinese that signed the Simla convention with British India that delineated boundaries.
  • However, after China’s full accession of Tibet in 1950, that China repudiated the convention and the McMahon line that divided the two countries.
  • Further, in 1954, India signed an agreement with China, agreeing to recognize Tibet as “Tibet region of China”.
  • In 1959, following the Tibetan uprising, the Dalai Lama (spiritual leader of Tibetan people) and many of his followers fled to India.
  • Former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru gave him and Tibetan refugees shelter, and helped in setting up the Tibetan government in exile.
  • The official Indian policy is that the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader, and the Tibetan community in India, with more than a lakh exiles, is not allowed to undertake any political activity.

Shift in India’s Tibet Policy:

  • In the event of increasing tensions between India and China, there has been a shift in India’s Tibet Policy.
  • This shift in the policy, earmarks the Indian government actively managing with the Dalai Lama in public forums. For Example,
  • In 2014, Prime Minister of India (PM) had invited the head of the Tibetan government in exile in India, Lobsang Sangay, to his swearing in ceremony.
  • However, he did not invite him in 2019 after being re-elected for a second five-year term, to ensure a smooth passage for a second informal summit between him and Chinese president Xi Jinping.
  • Recently, the Prime Minister of India (PM) wished the Dalai Lama in the first such public acknowledgement since 2013, the first time as PM.
  • The shift in India’s Tibet policy is majorly focused on symbolic aspects, but there are many challenges pertaining to India’s Approach to Tibet Policy.

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