Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The First Days of the Dalai Lama in India

Har Mander Singh, the Dalai Lama, Mrs Singh
I am posting here a fascinating report sent Har Mander Singh, the Political Officer (PO) of the Kameng Frontier Division (FD) to K.L. Mehta, the Adviser to the Governor of Assam on April 16, 1959.
Mehta, Har Mander's boss posted in Shillong, was looking over the entire NEFA.
As the PO of Kameng FD, Har Mander Singh was responsible to receive the Dalai Lama in March/Avril 1959, when the Tibetan leader and his party sought refuge in India.
The Tibetan leader crossed the Indian border on March 31, 1959 at Khenzimane/Chuthangmu where he was received by T.S. Murthy, the Assistant PO in Tawang.
Har Mander Singh came later and met the Dalai Lama at Lumla, a few days march from Tawang.
This is the final report sent by the Political Officer before the Dalai Lama proceed to the plains of Assam and Mussorie, his first residence in India.
Nehru's special envoy, P.N. Menon (father of former Foreign Secretary and NSA, Shivshankar Menon) came to meet the Dalai Lama is Bomdi La with a message from the Indian Prime Minister.
P.N. Menon had earlier been posted as Consul General of India in Lhasa (1954-1956).

Here is the Report:


Bomdi La, April 16, 1959
D.O. No. CON.56

My dear Shri Mehta,
This is possibly my final despatch on the entry of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in this [Kameng] Division.
His Holiness left Tawang on the 8th April, 1959, halted at Jang on the 8th April, Sengedzong [Senge Dzong] on the 9th April, Dirang Dzong on the 10th April, Rahung on the 11th April and reached Bomdi La on the 12th as already reported. People in very large numbers gathered along the route to see him throughout the journey. He held blessing ceremonies in almost every village where he stopped during his trek.
On the 10th April, while travelling between Sengedzong and Dirang Dzong His Holiness mentioned that as a rule he did not listen in to the Lhasa Radio but had done so the previous evening and had learnt that the Chinese had set up a new enlarged Preparatory Committee under the Chairmanship of the Panchen Lama with four Vice-Presidents. They were Gen Chang Kuo Hwa [Zhang Guohua], one of the two Shapes [Ministers] (in-charge of Armed Forces) left behind in Lhasa and two incarnate Lamas. The second Shape [Ngapo Ngawang Jigme] had been included in the Preparatory Committee. The Panchen Lama had issued a statement condemning the rebel Forces and stating that those who indulged in rebel activities should be severely dealt with.
I noticed that from the time he listened in to this broadcast, the attitude of the Dalai Lama towards the question of giving asylum to the Tibetans seeking entry in India underwent a change. Heretofore, he seemed to be of the view that the Government of India should be liberal in giving asylum to the Tibetan officials and members of the rebel Forces fleeing the Chinese. After listening in to this particular broadcast the Dalai Lama seemed to have formed the view that the Government of and the rebel Forces should stay on in Tibet to fight the Chinese and agitate against the Preparatory Committee set up under the Panchen Lama and that they should seek asylum in India in those rare and extreme cases where they felt convinced of being persecuted.
The same day His Holiness happened to ask me about policies of the various political parties of India to which I gave non-committal replies.

Guard of Honour with Commandant, Assam Rifles, behind Har Mander Singh and PN Menon
On the 10th April, 1959, the Dalai Lama expressed appreciation for the services rendered to him by the Assam Rifles an escorting him from Chuthangmu [first Assam Rifles post in India] and wanted to give some cash to the riflemen. I submitted to him that although we felt deeply touched by his gesture of kindness it was not the normal practice to give gash to the Government servants for the services rendered by them and that a word of appreciation would be as valuable for us as any gift.
The Dalai Lama was presented a Guard of Honour and was given a rousing reception on arrival in Bomdi La. He very kindly consented to have all his meals with us and was accommodated in our house. He had two brief meetings on the 12th with [P.N.] Menon where Dave and I were also present in which he repeated the background already reported in the earlier despatches leading to his escape. The Kashag [Cabinet of Ministers] also met Menon briefly the same day while having tea with us but did not make any special point.
The Dalai Lama and his officers had a six-hour meeting with Menon on the 13th afternoon where Dave [Intelligence Officer] and I were also present. In this they reiterated the stories of atrocities and lack of religious freedom and internal autonomy. The Dalai Lama confirmed that he had written three letters to the Chinese authorities between the 11th and the 17th March with the aim of re-establishing relations with them. They said that the new Government at Yul Gyal Lhuntse [Lhuntse Dzong, where the Dalai Lama had denounced the 17-Point Agreement] had full spiritual and temporal powers under the Dalai Lama, that the new flag of the State had not been devised and that the system of the new Government was 'democratic according to the genius of the people'. The object of the Government was to have a common mother land 'for the people who eat Tsampa and chant mantra of Chenrezi'. They re-iterated forcefully that internal autonomy was not acceptable to them and they wanted full freedom including control over External Affairs and Defence and would fight to the last to attain their objective. They said that their immediate requests were as follows:-
  1. The veracity of the stories about atrocities in Tibet may be got verified by India by sending a Fact Finding Commission.
  2. India should mediate and ask China to stop bloodshed and release persons arrested in connection with political activities.
  3. India should espouse the cause of Tibetan Independence, as she had been doing in the case of other dependent countries of the world.
In the meeting, Menon emphasised the need to exercise discretion in giving statements to the Press till the meeting of His Holiness with our Prime Minister. He has telegraphed a report on these discussions to the Ministry and intends to follow it up with a detailed despatch.
Later His Holiness attended a reception in his honour in the Bomdi La Club. I delivered a brief speech welcoming him to the Division to which he replied and gave a brief religious sermon.

On the 14th April, His Holiness gave blessings individually to about 4000 people, sitting on the throne which we had got made for him, in our drawing room. He also paid visits to the School, the Hospital, the Cottage Industries Training-cum-Production Centre, the Women's Welfare Centre and the Co-operative Stores appreciated development work being done by us.
In the evening he attended a Cinema Show which was followed by a Dinner Party given by me in honour of His Holiness and the senior members of his entourage.
Following films were shown:
  1. A Documentary on Bapu.
  2. A Documentary on our Prime Minister.
  3. A Newsreel feature on the Republic Day 1958 celebration in New Delhi.
  4. A Documentary on the Himalayas.
  5. A NEFA Documentary on the Kameng Frontier Division.
Har Mander Singh introduces local officials to the Dalai Lama
In the documentary on Gandhiji there was a scene in which the Union Jack was shown being hauled down and the Indian National Flag being raised on the mast, on the 15th August, 1947. His Holiness and the members of his entourage cheered when this scene was exhibited on the screen and His Holiness said with deep emotion in his voice that there were similarities in the struggle for Independence of his own country and that which India had undertaken against the British Raj and that he hoped that one day they too would be able to fly their own flag in their country
His Holiness will be leaving Bomdi La for Khelong on the 17th April. The first party consisting of the members of his family and his tutors left on the 15th April and the second party left today. The entire party will concentrate in Khelong by the 17th evening, spend the night there, breakfast at Foothills on the 18th morning and leave for Tezpur to entrain at 1330 hours the same day from there.
The members of the entourage have endeavoured to sell off their ponies and other articles such as spare blankets, during their stay in the Kameng Division. The Dalai Lama's mother is reported to have done good business in Tawang.

In conclusion I would like to record some further observations connected with the visit of His Holiness.
  1. The people of the Division showed deep devotion towards His Holiness and came from distant places in large numbers to see him. The visit has helped the people to realize that as Indians living in the Frontier lands, they have liberty to acknowledge the Dalai Lama as their spiritual head without prejudice to their nationalism. The gesture of the Government in giving asylum to His Holiness has made a deeply favourable impression on the minds of our people.
  2. His Holiness was impressed by the religious devotion and simplicity of the people but said that our monks were not well versed in religious affairs. He mentioned once that during his previous visit to India he had made a suggestion to the Prime Minister that besides Ladakhi monks who already go to Lhasa, Indian monks from other areas also should be sent to the three principal monasteries in Tibet for religious training but that nothing had come of it so far.
  3. Our people brought gifts of foodgrains, fodder and cash for the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama invariably refused cash gifts but accepted foodgrains and fodder to the extent required. His party offered to pay for the porterage but I explained to them that Government of India had already accepted responsibility for expenses on their travel. In most cases however, the people insisted in carrying his personal loads free of charge and refused payment inspite of considerable persuasion by me and other officials. I have been issuing rations from the … for the Dalai Lama and his entourage to the extra required and be submitting accounts separately to the administration for sanction.
  4. Two or three junior officers of the entourage struck us as being uninterested in the Tibetan movement and seemed keen to settle down in India.
  5. It seems that the Tibetan officials would like to make more frequent use of the Tawang route for movement from and to Tibet and to maintain contact with Yul Gyal Lhuntse and the Rebel Forces. They might seek facilities from the Government of India in this regard.
  6. The point on which I need further guidance is as to what should be done with the stragglers from the party who are unable to join the entourage before the party leaves the Division. There are two or three attendants who are being left behind in Bomdi La due to their illness and there are some others who have not been able to move fast enough and have still not reached Bomdi La. We would also like to know as to whether any change of policy is envisaged in regard to giving asylum to the refugees from Tibet whose number is likely to increase considerably once the Bumla route opens.
It has been a great experience and privilege for us all here to receive and look after the Dalai Lama during his journey through this Division and our task was made easier by his grace, charm and informality.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,
Sd. Har Mander Singh

To Shri K L Mehta, ICS
Adviser to the Governor of Assam,

Monday, October 5, 2015

Nepali-Chini Bhai Bhai

Chinese soldiers in Nepal after the eathquake
Nepalese Ambassador to India Deep Kumar Upadhyay asked India not to ‘push it to the wall’ by blocking petroleum and other essential supplies, otherwise the landlocked country would have to find alternatives: i.e. China …‘despite logistical difficulties’.
According to The Economic Times, Upadhyay asserted that, though India had assured Nepal that the present difficult situation will be resolved ‘at the earliest’: "They (India) should give a time frame. Does it mean hours, weeks or months?"
While one can only hope that the constitutional issues will soon be resolved to the satisfaction of all (and not only a section of the Nepalese population), China enjoys the situation.
According to Xinhua, on September 21, Beijing congratulated Kathmandu on the promulgation of its new constitution made public on the previous day.
During his daily press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei stated: “We expect Nepal to use this as an opportunity, [for] achieving the nation's unity, stability and development.”
Hong added: “China attaches great importance to the China-Nepal ties, and is willing to continue the friendly cooperation between the two nations.”
Further, China is ready to provide “as much help as it can for the economic and social development of Nepal.”
In this atmosphere of Nepali-Chini bhai bhai, the relations between Nepal and Tibet are upbeat too.
On the day the new Constitution was promulgated in Nepal, Dadhiram Bhandari, Section Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in Lhasa.
He remembered that when first arrived in Lhasa in 2011, he thought that “Tibet was a marginalized and a primitive place, that was both barren and underdeveloped.”
Four years ago, his image of Tibet changed ‘within the blink of an eye’.
Bhandari was posted for four years in the Nepali Consulate in the Tibetan capital “every four months, I noticed significant changes,” he told Xinhua.
He recalled: “Development of Tibet is incredible. Despite the topographical harshness and climatic conditions, the Chinese government has made development a reality. We have so many things to learn from them."
Like most of the Nepali officials, Bhandari lavishly praises China for its role in Tibet: “Despite having a similar topography, Tibet has taken a heightened step in development whereas Nepal is still crawling, with political instability and minor issues.”
The Nepali official conveniently forgets that ‘stability’ was the main theme of the 50th Anniversary of the creation of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Yu Zhengsheng and others senior Chinese leaders stressed again and again on ‘stability’.
Simply because Tibet is not stable!
The Nepalis are blind to this.
Bhandari told Xinhua that Nepal should learn the dedication of the Chinese government and its commitment towards the development of Tibet.
This is of course propaganda, but the fact remains that Nepal and Tibet (and China) are getting closer by the day, at a time when the relations between Kathmandu and Delhi are rather frosty (understatement!).
Naindra Prasad Upadhyay, Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies of Nepal, earlier posted as Consul General in Tibet, sings the same song than Bandari, "Tibet has done an impressive job with education and health development. Even in rural areas, we can find every facility. The living standard of people is high."
Upadhyay served in Tibet from 2007 to 2011; it was “a wonderful experience full of hospitality and cooperation,” he recalls.
Nepal is clearly enamoured of China: “Socio-economic development is taking place very rapidly in Tibet. The infrastructure development has provided a good opportunity for the people," believes the former Consul.
Nepal is eying at the tourists’ waves invading Tibet (17 million are expected in 2015).
Kathmandu calculates that it could greatly benefit if only 10 percent of Tibet's tourists could be diverted to Nepal.
Rajesh Kaji Shrestha, President of Nepal's Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in an interview with Xinhua affirms: "We need to develop a strong cooperation with Tibet, especially with the nearest city [like] Lhasa for trade and tourism."
He adds "Tibetans are curious to do trade with Nepal. We can import anything from there but we need to make an environment for export focusing on specific goods."
Today Nepal get some 8 lakhs of tourists every year, nearly half of them Chinese, but the proportion of the latter is increasing fast.
Xinhua regrets: “the April 25 earthquake has diminished [the inflow of Chinese tourist in] Nepal, [which is] eager to draw more tourists and boost the country's economy.
Kathmandu would like to learn more from Tibet in order to achieve a more significant growth in tourists’ inflow.
What does it mean for India?
Last year on this blog, I reported the opening of the Kyirong (Chinese: Gyirong) landport.
I then quoted from a report of the official China Tibet Online:
The Gyirong Port in southwest China’s Tibet bordered with Nepal will be formally opened in October this year. The opening of the Gyirong Port has been listed in the key work plan of national ports in 2014."
The creation of a cross-border China-Nepal Gyirong Port Economic Cooperation Zone was then announced. The website continued:
The Gyirong Port enjoys a long history of being the largest land trading port between Tibet and Nepal. Many shop owners have expressed their hope that the opening of the port can help them get more involved in the border trade. From May 2007, the Shigatse Customs House will dispatch four officials to station at the Gyirong Port. A regular coordination system had been set up in order to seek support from the Gyirong county government, the Gyirong Customs and the Risur Customs of Nepal. Besides, the officials have been trying to promote preferential trade policies to encourage the local people to participate in the border trade. And some training has been provided to the port officials in Zham Customs House, another Class A port next to Gyirong in south Tibet’s Shigatse Prefecture.
What will be the outcome of the opening of a new port between Tibet and Nepal?
What will be the consequences of the arrival of the train in Kyirong in 3 or 4 years?
It first means new infrastructure on both side of the border, not only for tourists but also commodities, including oil, food products, etc.
In the long-term, it signifies that Tibet (read China) can replace India as the main supplier of commodities.
This will have serious strategic implications for India.
And the Tibetan refugees will further suffer in Nepal.
On 29th September, on the occasion of the second China Tibet International Tourism and Culture Expo, Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, Nepal’s Secretary of Culture, Tourism and Aviation asserted:
Since our two countries [Nepal and China] established formal diplomatic relations in 1955, both sides have entered a new era of cooperation and development; high-level visits from both sides have increased as has mutual understanding; bilateral relations have forged ahead, deepening the multifaceted cooperation between the two countries. Both countries have cooperated in many areas internationally; further promoting peace, development and prosperity. The Nepal government’s stance towards the ‘One China’ policy is firm and unwavering; we will not allow, under any circumstances, any force to use our territory to encroach on the interests of our northern neighbor.
In another words, Nepal will stand with China in a ‘firm and unwavering’ manner.
Thapaliya said the Expo provided “an important opportunity for the promotion of tourism and culture in Nepal and Tibet, which will help further cooperation in this area.”
He ‘fondly’ recalled that Nepal and the People’s Republic of China have a long history of friendly relations: “Tibet has always been the gateway connecting Nepal to Mainland China; therefore Nepal and Tibet have a special relationship. Both sides have the same values based on the Buddha’s teachings and the towering Himalayas provide an important link between the two civilizations.”
It is good to know that China's Tibet is a Buddhist nation.
Thapaliya added: “China and Nepal share similar ideas and values and are geographically close.”
‘Similar values and ideals’?
What about democracy, now that Nepal has a Constitution?
The Nepali minister called for an improvement or the interconnection via land and air between China and Nepal, in particular Tibet and Nepal, adding that it will help promoting “mutual benefit, especially with respect to cultural tourism.”
India is nowhere is this new scheme.
Thapaliya even recalled: “In April this year Nepal suffered a devastating earthquake, but thanks to the strength of the Nepalese people and the powerful support of a friendly nation, normal life has been restored in Nepal.”
Nepal is presently so obsessed with China, that Kathmandu even forgets India’s help during the tragic post-earthquake days.
How to revert the trend is not an easy task.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Xi in the White House: was the menu tasty?

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi returns to India after a highly successful trip to the United States (and Ireland), it is interesting to look at another high-profile visit, President Xi Jinping’s.
While Mr. Modi and US President Barrack Obama discussed several multilateral issues of common interest, including long term strategic issues such as China’s new assertiveness, the issue of climate change was central to the Obama-Modi talks.
While major powers, in particular China, have already pledged their CBDRs (Common but Differentiated Responsibilities), India is expected to announce its CBDRs in early October.
However, Xi Jinping’s US visit was important for several other reasons.
For the Chinese President, it was the first State Visit with a 21-gun salute on the White House lawn, an elaborate reception and a succulent ‘Sino-American’ menu for the State Dinner to which 240 selected guests from the US Industry and even Hollywood, were invited.
Before the visit, Reuters had mentioned ‘5 big challenges’ and their possible outcomes for the Sino-US relations.
First was ‘cybersecurity’ which has been the source of tension between the 2 superpowers.
Then was ‘climate change’: China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide and last year, it had pledged “to work towards a new global climate change agreement” to be agreed during the Paris’ UN Climate Change Conference in December.
Economy was a third issue on the agenda. Reuters says: “China’s faltering economy and perceived slow progress on market reforms are major concerns for global investors worried about its openness to foreign competition. The nation drastically devalued its currency in August, sending waves through global markets.” A bilateral investment treaty between Beijing and Washington is still far away.
More tricky was the tensions in the South China Sea. Beijing has recently developed a number of artificial islands and military infrastructure in the South China Sea causing “considerable concern from neighbouring countries and putting pressure on the US to address the conflict” said Reuters.
And of course, the Human Rights issue. Here Beijing is not ready to discuss anything, often citing the poor human rights’ records of the United States, where a Black has many more chances to be killed by a policeman than a White. Xi just agreed that human rights and democracy were important pursuits, “but that reforms would proceed in time with China’s timetable.”
Even for Washington, it was certainly not the most urgent issue to tackle, though it is useful for ‘public consumption’.
Incidentally, the Dalai Lama was in the US at the same time as Xi, but due to health problems, part of his program had to be cancelled; in any case no ‘official’ meetings had been planned.
The South China Morning Post (SCMP) spoke of ‘goldilocks problems’ faced by China: “When President Xi Jinping visits the United States, the mainland public is bound to receive wall-to-wall positive coverage of what Beijing has pledged will be a successful trip. But underneath the pomp and pageantry, Xi may find himself facing an American audience that is increasingly ambivalent towards China.”
The Hong Kong newspaper cites “a host of security and economic issues is a shifting balance between the two countries as China's clout continues to grow.”
An analyst commented “For nearly 30 years, a sense of opportunity for business and trade, …but now you have fear, anger and worry".
Let us look at the issue of cybersecurity.
Xi Jinping and Obama pledged to curb commercial cyberespionage.
The two governments announced that they would soon launch biannual ministerial-level talks. Xi stated that ‘lot of consensus’ had been reached with Obama, who asserted that both countries would refrain from state-sponsored cyber-theft of intellectual property.
It is easier said than done. Will the NSA stops peeping into Chinese servers? Will China rein in its hordes of hackers? And what is ‘commercial cyberespionage’? Will military espionage be allowed? Where is the limit between the two? Obama even admitted: "The question now is: Are words followed by actions?"
Though both leaders highlighted some areas in which the US and China could work together, they also acknowledged that many differences remain.
The Chinese media argued that Obama reiterated that the US would not interfere in Hong Kong and did not support ‘independence’ for Taiwan, Tibet or Xinjiang. Is it possible?
More important was the issue of the South China Sea. Xi reiterated China had the right to uphold its territorial sovereignty and that Beijing did ‘not intend to pursue militarisation’ of the artificial islands.
What means ‘militarisation’?
In the midst of the visit, the SCMP reported that according to Chinese military sources: “China might press on with land reclamation in the strategically important South China Sea despite US President Barack Obama’s warning.”
Xi ‘confirmed’ that the islands were Chinese territory from ‘ancient times’ and Beijing had the right to uphold its maritime rights.
A source close to the Chinese military told the SCMP that Beijing would carry out reclamation …when necessary “China needs those artificial islands and airstrips in the South China Sea, because [the area] is a supply base for its navy and air force in the Asia-Pacific.”
‘Peaceful’ supply?
Reclamation is bound to continue and though it is more and more worrisome for the neighbours, the US can’t do much about it.
These thorny issues were discussed during a private ‘informal’ dinner. For almost three hours, the two leaders, with a couple of aides, talked about the burning issues straining bilateral ties. Analysts say that it was an opportunity for the two leaders to ‘know each other’.
As Xi was leaving the dinner venue (at Blair House (sic), a guest residence nearby the White House), the American President waved at his guest and said ‘ni hao’ (‘hi’ in Chinese).
Will it be enough to sort out all the difficult issues? Probably not.
At the same time, Xi tried to project China as a ‘responsible’ stake-holder.
Xi pledged billions to battle climate change; in the joint statement, Beijing said that it will “make available 20 billion yuan (3 billion US $ billion) through a bilateral fund to help developing countries combat climate change”.
A few days later, Xi announced at the UN that China will take the lead to set up a permanent peacekeeping police squad, building a peacekeeping standby force of 8,000 troops, and again pledging one billion dollars.
But at the same time, Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao reported that China may have recently conducted a successful test of the fastest hypersonic aircraft in the world.
It quoted the website of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which mentioned an initial test flight on an unspecified high-altitude, super-fast aircraft with a ‘unique flying style’. The report was deleted shortly after. Analysts however believe that Beijing is developing a new hypersonic aircraft that can travel at five times the speed of sound.
Though commentators say that for Xi, the opportunity to make personal connections with America's business and political leaders was important, it does not mean that China will be changing its ‘core’ positions.
Just before he left for the States, a report titled "The US-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power, 1996-2017" had been released by the RAND Corporation, a US-based think tank. It argued: “Admitting that the People's Liberation Army still trails the US Navy considerably in terms of technology and skill, the gap has narrowed gradually between 1996 and 2017.”
Xi knows that, but China will not relent till it reaches the ‘level’ of the United States, which is Beijing’s ultimate objective.
A lot of tensions in perspective!
Narendra Modi’s visit was on a more peaceful and economic note.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Amchok Rinpoche: The Karma of Tibet

Amchok Rinpoche with Cui Baohua of the UFWD
Several years ago, I interviewed a senior Tibetan Lama on ‘The Karma of Tibet’. I was then putting down on paper some historical reflections on what happened to the Tibetan Nation.
I consulted a Lama in Dharamsala.
He spoke good English and was then the Director of the Library.

Was there a defection on the Roof of the World?
Yesterday, the same Lama was in the news for completely different reasons.
The Global Times, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party of China titled: “Exiled living Buddha returns, snubs leader” and it went on to report that “a former senior member of the Dalai Lama clique, formerly exiled in India, has returned, which experts think indicates the declining influence of the group.”
Incidentally, for the first time since a long time, the Chinese media uses the term ‘clique’ to speak about the Dalai Lama’s Administration. It confirms the general hardening towards the Dalai Lama.

What has happened?
A few months ago, I wrote on this blog:
China has discreetly started appealing to the Tibetan Diaspora to join again the ‘motherland’. The move was decided during Central United Front Work Conference held in Beijing from May 18 to 20. …During his intervention at the Conference, Xi Jinping spoke of strengthening of the unity of ‘three types of people’. Who are these 3 types? Xi named them: overseas students, media representatives, and non-public economy representatives.
China Tibet Online asked a pertinent (for Beijing) question: “do overseas Tibetans count in the ‘three types of people’?”
The website affirms that there are about 170,000 Tibetans living abroad in 33 different countries.
…The Chinese media then said (it was in June 2015): “In 1978, the Chinese government formulated policies that ‘all patriots belong to one family, and that patriotism can be shown at any time’, as well as ‘freedom to come and go, letting bygones be bygones’ to welcome expatriate Tibetans to come home. Furthermore, Tibet’s economic development and the improvement of people’s living standards have also attracted overseas Tibetans to return home to visit their families and friends, make Buddhist pilgrimage, travel as tourists or do business.”
The Global Times’ article is about Amchok Rinpoche (written Achok by the Chinese). It says: “the living Buddha, returned to China in May and has settled down in the Aba [Ngawa] Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest China's Sichuan Province after he gained approval from Sichuan in April.”
The Communist tabloid commented: “Move indicates futureless end of the Dalai Lama group”.
Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at the Minzu University of China told the nationalist newspaper: “It's a brave and praiseworthy move [from Amchok Rinpoche].”
Cui Baohua, a member of the Standing Committee of the Sichuan provincial committee of the Communist Party of China, went to meet the Rinpoche, who is supposed to have told the cadre: “Now I am a 'real' Chinese citizen. And all I want to do is to fulfill my duty as a Chinese citizen."
Lian Xiangmin, director of the Modern Institute of China Tibetology Research Center said: “The life of a legal citizen is surely different from a life in exile with an illegal identity on a foreign land.”
Amchok Rinpoche was a well-known figure in Dharamsala, having occupied, amongst others the seat of Director of the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives.
Xiong argued that “he came back to China partly because China is stronger and more powerful with an increasingly significant position in the world,” adding “his return indicates to some degree the futureless end of the Dalai Lama group with a dying momentum”, and of course, it is “recognition of China's religious policy as correct.”
The South China Morning Post however noted: “It was not immediately possible to reach him for comment.”
Is it a purely propaganda exercise from Beijing or was Amchok Rinpoche (who has already re-baptized ‘Anqu’ in pinyin) genuinely keen to return to his native land and work from there?
It is difficult to say, but it is sure that the new policy of the United Front Work Department is to tell Tibetans ‘let bygones, be bygones’ and score important propaganda points against Dharamsala.

At the same time, Beijing is extremely nervous about Lukam Jam Atsock’s candidature to the post of Tibetan Prime Minister (Sykiong): Lukam Jar advocates Rangzen, an Independent Tibet. It is far from the mild ‘Middle Path’ sponsored by the Dalai Lama (and not even accepted by Beijing).
Will more ‘defection’ happen? It is too early to say.
But the presence of a senior Lama from India in the restive Ngawa Prefecture could ultimately turn to be a problem for Beijing.
Who can change China's Karma?
Only the furure will tell us.

The Karma of Tibet

To come back to Amchok Rinpoche, several years ago, during the course of a research, I questioned many Tibetans on how they viewed the working of this famous Karma and its place in their nation’s history.
In my Karma of Tibet (free download). I wrote: “We specifically interviewed a scholarly Tibetan Lama on this question of Karma. Hereafter he is referred as ‘the Lama’; he made some thought-provoking remarks, though several others interviewees answered on similar lines.

Excerpts of Amchok Rinpoche’s interview and my comments:

If one looks at history through Tibetan (or Buddhist) eyes, especially the relations between India, China and Tibet, one not only deals with historical events, but with movements of forces and currents (or sometimes undercurrents) which have a much deeper significance but which are ignored by serious 'historians'.
For Tibetans, history is an iceberg and we are aware only of the most superficial results of certain world movements which we name ‘historical events’.
Having an overview of the Himalayan peaks ignoring the depth of the valleys and height of the mountain ranges, would be similar.
Whenever we questioned Tibetans about their history, they said: “Our Karma had to be exhausted”.
For the Lama (Amchok), the recent history of Tibet was a wave that nothing could stop.
The question we raised was, where does this ‘bad’ Karma come from? Is it selective? When has it been accumulated? Did it take years or decades before ‘ripening’?
To these questions, the Lama said: “The Tibetans are human beings just like any other beings in the rest of the world: there is not much difference. In the past, we, Tibetans accumulated a lot of negative karma but at the same time did enjoy very much the consequences of previous good karma and this, for many years. Between the World War I and II, we were enjoying life. Actually during this period we enjoyed too much the results of our previous positive actions and we did not want to think of the results of the bad karma which were accumulating.”
It is true that in the old Tibetan society, at least at the beginning of this century, Tibetans enjoyed life. The aristocracy, in particular had a life of pleasure, a life of ‘silk brocade and picnic’.
It is enough to read the books of European explorers of the first half of the twentieth century until the invasion of Tibet, to understand that the Old Tibet was a harmonious and protected world living timelessly.
There were certainly a lot of social differences in the life conditions of the aristocracy (lay and monastic) and people working for them, but everyone seemed to be happy, everyone had enough to eat, life was peaceful and somehow harmonious, in spite of the hardship of daily life.
It is perhaps this image of peace and harmony, which gave birth to the perception of the mythical Land of Snows which caught the imagination of the West.
This incredible harmony was not restricted to the different strata of people, but there was also a harmony with nature and even with the gods. Tibet was Shangri-La, the paradise on earth, and the fact that it was closed to the outside word helped to contribute to the mystique of the land.
The Lama told us: “We did not think before and then it struck and we thought: ‘Maybe it is not for us, maybe it is only for someone else in the world, it cannot be for the Tibetans’. We kept on neglecting our duties”.
It took only a few months for the Tibetans to understand that “it was for them”.
The Lama further explained that for the Tibetans, this continued negligence in their life provoked an accumulation of ‘bad or negative Karma’, which had grown stronger and larger.
What was just a seed in the 1930’s and 1940’s, kept on growing over the years, and one day of 1950, the harvest was ready. Soon after the 1950 earthquake, the Tibetans understood that it was no more a warning. As if confirming the forthcoming dark days, all sorts of ominous celestial glows and lights were spotted everywhere in Tibet.
On the political scene, Tibet had no friends left. The British had left India and were only remotely interested in what was happening on the Roof of the World: after all, they no longer common borders with Tibet.
Their successor, the Government of India was in two minds; some of the more visionary leaders, like Sardar Patel understood the strategic importance of Tibet for the security of India, but he would soon pass away while Nehru was already dreaming of his nebulous brotherhood with China. Moreover, the Tibetans had foolishly refused to immediately ratify the Simla Convention after the British left India, thereby upsetting the Indian government and losing their only possible ally.
For the Lama, it was clear that the Thirteenth Dalai Lama had foreseen the forthcoming events. He had understood that the fruits of ‘negative karma’ were ripening and his Testament was a last attempt to warn his people about what the future held for them.
He knew that it was probably too late, but, for him even this warning was part of the game. He believed that perhaps his Testament could give a future direction to his people.
He based his predictions not only on his inner vision, but also on hard facts; he was a great mystic, but very much down-to-earth too.
He had met many people from Mongolia, Russia, England and China and was fully informed of the world situation; he was aware that the world was changing and could foresee the kind of whirl it would soon be plunged into. There was certainly an acceleration in world evolution and revolutions were erupting everywhere.
He sensed that Tibet’s negative karma was becoming too strong: the boil had to burst soon. Hence, he decided that he had no other alternative but to give a warning to his people, especially the Government officials before leaving his body.
The Lama continued: “When the Karma becomes very strong, when it is ready to burst, at that time it is not very easy to change the consequences. In the 30’s already everything seemed already arranged, the ‘black karma’ was confirmed. It was as though we had a confirmed ticket and we were on the train, it is not easy to stop a train”.
Some questions remain. Could the consequences have been changed, if the Tibetan officials had taken the warnings seriously and had acted upon them? Or was it already too late to stop the train? Could the black wave have been stopped?
To further complicate the karmic question: a particular chain of consequences does not depend only on one group of persons or factors (in this case the actions of the Tibetan people), but on hundreds of forces. In this specific case, the neighbours of Tibet whose past and future have always been linked with Tibet, also had their role to play in the ‘karmic’ game.
The Lama said that the Thirteenth Dalai Lama consciously decided to leave his body and come back as a young boy who would eventually be able to dissolve all the bad effects and wash out the negative consequences of the past actions of the Tibetan nation.
The Lama went one step further when said that it might even be possible that the Dalai Lama made some calculations, “if he had to live till the end of the 50’s, when the negative effects would be at their full strength, then he would be too old to do anything meaningful [for Tibet] and the next 15 or 20 years would be wasted during the childhood and adolescence of his successor”.
It was most probably preferable for him to leave his material sheath in the early 30’s and to come again soon, to be able to lead his people towards a new freedom as a young man.
Many Tibetans believe that such was the motivation of the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and as a great yogi, he implemented the decision to leave and return in order to serve his people to the best of his capacity.
It may appear surreal to look so at history but we should not forget that it is from this angle alone that the Tibetan people look at the world and its history.
There is nothing to prove that the western version of history is superior to the eastern one. History itself has demonstrated that most of ‘modern’ theories have been wrong at least in their practical applications.
To give an example, how have Nepal and Bhutan or the Fiji Islands become independent nations while Tibet, a much older nation, is still today in slavery?
In supposing that the above reading of the Tibetan history is correct, it would suggest that the young Fourteenth Dalai Lama’s mission was to ‘wash’ away the past bad karma of his countrymen. In some way, he did when he opened up the knowledge of his nation and spread its Dharma the world over. Is it not ironical that the leader of a nation which in the past refused even to open letters from ‘foreigners’ is today hopping from one continent to another and has become one of the most respected figures amongst those ‘yellow-eyed foreigners’?
His mission began early. At the age of 15, he became the Head of a state in crisis and immediately began his political activities, dutifully serving his country and his people. He did not have much time to enjoy teen-age years, but he knew that it was part of his destiny.
The next question which comes to mind is whether what has happened to Tibet is not disproportionate, compared to the presumed negative actions committed by others?
The Tibetans have certainly committed many wrong actions, but elsewhere in the world the French, the British, the Americans or the Chinese have also committed (and are committing everyday) worst actions.
Was not Hiroshima or Nagasaki a bad karmic action for the Americans who still presume to be the conscience keepers of the world?
Why then have the consequences been so dramatic in the case of Tibet? Even if one admits that there were many unresolved problems and wrong doings in old Tibet, why has the Land of Snows had to pay such a high price?
Tibetan (and Indian) Buddhists could argue that the karma of the British is also very heavy; their colonies have suffered their own share from the imperialist policies of the Crown. The Partition of India by Lord Mountbatten with the consent of the Congress leaders is one of the worst ‘unpunished’ crimes against humanity. How many millions of people in the subcontinent are still suffering because of this action? In this case, as in many others, why does one see the ripening of the negative karma?
Even for learned lamas, it is not easy to find an answer to this question.
It is true that the supposed wrong actions of Tibet seem mild compared to many other nations; Tibet never had imperialist tendencies, during the last millennium. It never attacked its neighbours; Tibet had its own internal conflicts and disunity (especially in the first decades of the Twentieth Century) but was this so serious as to be the root of so much suffering and pain?
Was it because the Tibetans were spiritually more advanced that they could ‘take on’ more on their shoulders?
It is not for us to answer this question here. However, from a spiritual point of view, it is oft repeated that difficulties are always in proportions to the capacity of the disciple.
If the history of modern Tibet is seen from a spiritual point of view, it is obvious that Tibet was able to bear more of a burden than many other nations.
The Lama made another interesting point. Tibet has had long, sometimes difficult, sometimes smoother relations with India and China. Due to these old connections, the karma of Tibet ripened at a time when important developments occurred in these nations.
He said: “The karmic history of Tibet can be seen from yet another angle. As believers of Mahayana Buddhism, many in Tibet had taken the Bodhisattvas vows. Could it be that as a compassionate action, some beings took on their shoulders the karmic consequences of China’s past actions to purify and cleanse them?”
In the Indian tradition, there are innumerable stories of gurus taking the consequent sins of their disciples on their own bodies. There is a marvelous story of Sri Ramakrishna, the great Bengali saint who at the end of the nineteenth century took on himself the sins of a prostitute that he met in a street. He immediately fell very sick and died soon after of cancer.
The Lama said that during the Chinese occupation in Tibet, many great lamas, some very revered yogis, passed away in prison after serving a jail sentence for 10 or 20 years. While in prison they continuously prayed to lighten the karmic consequences for all human beings including the Chinese.
According to the Tibetans, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama knew what was going to happen to Tibet; many other great lamas also knew but were aware that they could not stop the black wave. They had no alternative but to fully accept it and ‘deal’ with it. Consciously, they walked through the ‘long and dark night’.
At the scale of a nation, the past fifty years of the Tibetan nation seem to be like this Great Passage; and because some lamas were conscious from the start that death and devastation were approaching for Tibet, they accepted the ordeal and kept their eyes open during the process. Their concentration and awareness helped all the other beings to go through so the nation could slowly be reborn. The process is not yet finished but the end of the tunnel is no longer far away and the sufferings of the people have tremendously decreased. The end will be come only after the rebirth (or independence) of the nation is obtained.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Tashkent: who benefited the 'crime'?

A meeting between Lal Bahadur Shastri and the Dalai Lama
In a recent interview to a news channel, Anil Shastri, Congress leader and son of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, stated that his father's death did not look natural.
He affirmed: “When my father's body came to the Delhi airport, the Palam airport as it was called then, and when it was taken out of the aircraft, that came as a shock because his body had turned blue. His face had turned blue and there were white spots on the temple."
He further added: "The moment my mother saw the body, she straightaway came to the conclusion that it was not a natural death …My mother told the family that it was a foul play.”
Anil Shastri asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declassify documents related to Lal Bahadur Shastri's in Tashkent.
Anil Shastri explained that he finds ‘unbelievable’ that the Prime Minister's room, in the capital of then Soviet Uzbekistan had "no call bell, no telephone, no caretaker in his room and no first aid. He had to walk up to the door himself. …His death was badly handled by the Indian government. …Post-mortem could have been done in Tashkent if there was a request from the Indian government or a request from the Indian doctors."
Interestingly, Anil Shastri asserted: "some close associates feel that suspicion revolves around an Indian hand or a foreign power."
I am not Inspecteur Jacques Clouzeau, but simply looking at the 'foreign powers' which benefited the ‘crime’ (or simply Shastri's death), one of them is clearly China.
Let me explain why.
After the 1962 war, Jawaharlal Nehru was physically and psychologically a broken man; he had realized that he had been taken for a ride by Mao - the strategist Chairman of the People’s Republic of China and Zhou, his Machiavellian Premier.
He soon had a stroke and passed away in May 1964.
The Government of India’s policy towards China (and Tibet) immediately changed after Lal Bahadur Shastri became the new Prime Minister.
Shastri decided to take a tougher stand on Tibet and his government voted in favour of the Resolution for Self-determination of Tibet in the UN in 1965.
The Indian Representative to the UN (Rafiq Zakaria) declared:
The naked truth - which all of us must face - is that the Chinese Government is determined to obliterate the Tibetan people, but surely no people can remain for long suppressed. I have faith in the world community. I believe it will be able to help restore the Tibetans all the freedom which we have enshrined, with such dedication, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is for these reasons that we support, fully and wholeheartedly, the cause of the people of Tibet. Our hearts go out to them in their miserable plight and the terrible suppression that they are suffering at the hands of the Government of the People's Republic of China. My delegation will, therefore, vote in favour of the draft resolution.
China was obviously not amused.
But there is more.
One day in September 1965, Tsipon Shakabpa, the then the Tibetan Representative in Delhi came down to South India to meet the Dalai Lama (during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani war, the Dalai Lama had been sent by the Government of India to South India ‘to avoid the shelling’, told us one day the Tibetan Leader).
Shakabpa was very excited; he had just had a meeting with Prime Minister Shastri who told him that India had decided to recognize the Tibetan Government-in-exile after his return from Tashkent.
Unfortunately for the Tibetans (and for India too), Shastri never returned from Tashkent.
Indira Gandhi, who was subsequently elected Prime Minister, continued her father's Tibet policy.
If Shastri had come back from Tashkent, many things would have been a different (for the Tibetans at least).
There is no doubt that China greatly benefited from Shastri’s untimely death…

I wish the Government of India would also declassify the minutes of the meeting between Lal Bahadur Shastri and Shakabpa.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

China 'intervention' during the 1965 conflict

Analysts celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Indo-Pakistan conflict.
In this connection, I am posting 4 Appendixes published by the Ministry Of External Affairs in the Notes, Memoranda And Letters Exchanged Between The Government Of India And China between January 1965 and February 1966 (known as White Paper No. XII).
These Appendixes deal with the Chinese 'intervention' in the conflict.
The correspondence between Delhi and Beijing is available in the White Paper XII, which can be downloaded from my website.
All the 14 White Papers on China are now available.
On September 23, 1965, The Hindu published the following article entitled 'Chinese intrude at three points'
The Chinese have intruded into Indian territory in Ladakh, in the middle sector and in Sikkim. The intrusion varies from two to three miles in the middle sector to a few hundred yards in Ladakh and in Sikkim. In the Dongchu La in Sikkim, the Chinese have intruded 800 yards into Indian territory. There was no exchange of fire between Indian and Chinese forces to-day [September 22], according to an official spokesman. The spokesman said he could not say what the Chinese would do at the expiry of the extended time limit at 9-30 to-night [September 22]. The Chinese posture was provocative. They were still on the border and at some points across the border in Indian territory. He could not say whether the Chinese would see good sense or do something more than what they had done already. The spokesman said that he had no confirmation of the New China News Agency report that Chinese forces had withdrawn from four points in the Sikkim and other sectors. According to reports received by the Defence Ministry, in the Sikkim sector, the Chinese continue to build up their positions and strength right up to the border.


Statement of the Government of the People's Republic of China, 7, September, 1965.

On September 6, 1965, India suddenly launched an armed attack on Pakistan. Indian troops have crossed the International Boundary between India and Pakistan and are pushing towards Lahore, the Capital of West Pakistan. The Indian radio has announced general mobilization. Thus the Indian Government has enlarged the local conflict between India and Pakistan in Kashmir into a general conflict between the two countries. In the face of the massive armed attack by India, the President of Pakistan has called on the entire people of the country to rise in resistance against the enemy and appealed for sympathy and support from all peace-loving peoples of the world.
The Indian Government's armed attack on Pakistan is an act of naked aggression. It not only is a crude violation of all principles guiding international relations but also constitutes a grave threat to peace in this part of Asia. The Chinese Government sternly condemns India for its criminal aggression, expresses firm support for Pakistan in its just struggle aggression and solemnly warns the Indian Government that it must bear responsibility for all the consequences of its criminal and extended aggression.
The Indian Government has always been perfidious on the Kashmir question. It once pledged solemnly with Pakistan to grant the Kashmiri people the right of self-determination. But far from honouring its pledge it has brazenly declared that Kashmir is an integral part of India and subjected the Kashmiri people to brutal national oppression. Where there is oppression, there will be resistance. It is entirely proper that the people in the Indian occupied area of Kashmir should rise up in resistance. In order to cover up its sanguinary suppression of the Kashmiri people, the Indian Government openly breached the cease-fire line in the disputed territory of Kashmir to intrude into the area under the control of Pakistan and carried out military provocations and armed occupation. This, of course, could not but arouse Pakistan to counter attack in self-defence. All this was in the nature of a local conflict in the disputed territory of Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
India already committed aggression on the Kashmir issue. Now it has openly launched a massive armed attack on Pakistan. This is a still more serious act of aggression.
The United Nations has always had an ill-fame on the Kashmir question. It solemnly pledged to guarantee national self-determination for Kashmir. However, 18 years have passed during which the United Nations watched on without lifting a finger while India acted lawlessly in Kashmir. The United Nations did not breathe a single word when India violated the cease-fire line. But as soon as Pakistan fought back in self-defence, the United Nations came out to mediate. This is by no means the end of the story. It is unconceivable that the United Nations, which has been unfair for 18 years, should suddenly become fair. The so-called mediation by the United Nations is based on a report of the Secretary General. The report itself is unfair. How can a fair conclusion be drawn from an unfair premise? On the Kashmir question, the United Nations has once again proved a tool of U.S. imperialism and its partners in their attempt to control the whole world. This will be further proved true during the current extended aggression against Pakistan by India.
India's armed aggression against Pakistan is another exposure of the chauvinist and expansionist features of its ruling circles. The Indian Government glibly says that it pursues a policy of so-called peaceful co-existence. But actually it has never ceased for a single day its activities of bullying and encroaching upon its neighbours wherever possible. Almost every neighbour of India has known this from its own experience. The Indian ruling circles are the greatest hypocrites in contemporary international life. The Chinese people have had a deep experience of this. Although the Indian ruling circles did not gain anything from their massive armed attack on China in October, 1962, they have never stopped making intrusions and provocations along the Sino-Indian border. India is still entrenched on Chinese territory on the Sino-Sikkim border and has not withdrawn. It is constantly probing furtively and making intrusions and harassment against Chinese territory in the Western sector of the Sino-Indian border. Indian violations of Chinese territory are far from coming to an end. The Chinese Government has served repeated warnings, and it is now closely following the development of India's acts of aggression and strengthening its defences and heightening its alertness along its border.
The Indian Government probably believes that since it has the backing of the U.S. imperialists and the modern revisionists it can bully its neighbours, defy public opinion and do whatever it likes. This will not do. Aggression is aggression. India's aggression against any one of its neighbours concerns all of its neighbours. Since the Indian Government has taken the first step in committing aggression against Pakistan, it cannot evade responsibility for the chain of consequences arising therefrom.
The Chinese Government is deeply convinced that, with the sympathy and support of the peace-loving countries and peoples of Asia and the whole world, the hundred million people of Pakistan will rise as one-man to save their country and finally drive back the Indian aggressors.

Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's Statement in Parliament, 17 September, 1965

I want to inform the House that this morning we received a communication from the Chinese Government demanding that within three days we should dismantle our defence installations which they allege are located on their Side of the border in Tibet across the Sikkim border. I might for the benefit of the House, read out the relevant portions of the communication, although I would be placing the communication and our reply on the Table of the House.
"In its notes the Indian Government continues to resort to its usual subterfuges in an attempt to deny the intruding activities of Indian troops along the Sino-Indian boundary and the China-Sikkim boundary. This attempt cannot possibly succeed. Since ceasefire and troop withdrawal were effected along the Sino-Indian border by China on her own initiative in 1962, Indian troops have never stopped their provocations, and there have been more than 300 intrusions into China either by ground or by air. The Chinese Government has repeatedly lodged protests with the Indian Government and served warnings to it, and has successively notified some friendly countries. The facts are there, and they cannot be denied by the Indian Government by mere quibbling. Moreover, the Chinese Government has four times proposed (the latest occasion in June 1965) Sino­ Indian Joint Investigation into India's illegal construction of military works for aggression on the Chinese side of the China-Sikkim boundary, but has each time been refused by the Indian Government. Now the Indian Government pretentiously says that the matter can be settled if only an independent and neutral observer should go to the border to see for himself. It further shamelessly asserts that Indian troops have never crossed the Sikkim-China boundary which has been formally delimited, and that India has not built any military works either on the Chinese side of the border or on the border itself. This is a barefaced lie. How can it hope to deceive anyone?
“As is known to everybody, the Indian Government has long been using the territory of Sikkim against China. Since September 1962, not to mention earlier times, Indian troops have crossed the China-Sikkim boundary, which was delimited long ago, and have built a large number of military works for aggression either on the Chinese side of the China-Sikkim boundary or on the boundary itself. There are now fifty six such military works, large and small which they helve built in the past few years all over the important passes along the China-Sikkim boundary, thus wantonly encroaching upon China's territory and violating her sovereignty. In these years the Chinese Government has made thirteen representations to the Indian Government. But the Indian Government has all along turned a deaf ear to them and does not have the slightest respect for China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Far from stopping its acts of aggression, the Indian Government has intensified them by ordering its troops to intrude into Chinese territory for reconnaissance and provocations.”
We are sending a reply to all these points and as I said I shall place the reply on the table of the House. I will read out the relevant portions of our reply.
"Ever since the Sino-Indian border problem was raised by the Chinese Government, the Government of India had made strenuous attempts to settle the question peacefully and with honour. Even after the unprovoked Chinese attack across the border in October­ November, 1962, the Government of India consistently followed the policy of seeking a peaceful settlement honourable to both the parties concerned.
As has been pointed out in various notes to the Chinese Government in the past, the Government of India has given strict instructions to its armed forces and personnel not to cross the international boundary in the Eastern and the Middle Sectors and the so-called 'line of actual control' in the Western Sector. The Government of India are satisfied after careful and detailed investigations, that Indian personnel as well as aircraft have fully carried out their instructions and have not transgressed the international boundary and the 'line of actual control' in the Western Sector at any time at any place. The Government of India are, therefore, absolutely convinced that the allegations contained in the Chinese note under reply are completely groundless. The Government of India are constrained to reject these allegations and to reassert emphatically that they do not accept the claims to vast areas of Indian territory in the Western, Middle and Eastern Sectors of the border put forward in the Chinese note under reply. As regards China's stand on Kashmir and on the present unfortunate conflict between India and Pakistan, it is nothing but interference on the part of China calculated to prolong and to enlarge the conflict."
The background of the matter is that in September 1962 some defence structures were constructed on the Sikkim side of the Sino­ Indian frontier. These structures have not been in occupation since the cessation of hostilities in November, 1962. Since the Chinese Government alleged that some of these structures were on their side of the border, India had in its note of September 12, 1965 gone to the extent of suggesting that an independent Observer be allowed to go this border to see for himself the actual state of affairs. The Chinese Government has not, unfortunately, accepted this reasonable proposal and has reiterated its proposal for joint inspection. In our reply which is being sent today, we are informing the Chinese Government that their contention is entirely incorrect. Nevertheless, as an earnest of our desire to give no ground to the Chinese for making this a pretext for aggressive action, we are informing them that we have no objection to a joint inspection of those points of the Sikkim-Tibet border where Indian personnel are alleged to have set up military structures in Tibetan territory. The Government of India on their part are prepared to arrange such an inspection as early as possible, at an appropriate official level, on a mutually convenient date.
We have sent a reply to the Chinese note accordingly and hope that Chinese Government would agree to action being taken as proposed. Copies of the Chinese note and of our reply have been placed on the table of the House.
I know the House would feel concerned about the intentions of the Chinese Government. We do hope that China would not take advantage of the present situation and attack India. The House may rest assured that we are fully vigilant and that if we are attacked, we shall fight for our freedom with grim determination. The might of China will not deter us from defending our territorial integrity. I shall keep the House informed of further developments.


Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's Statement in Parliament, 20 September, 1965

I place on the Table of the House the text of a further note which was handed over to our Charge d'Affaires in Peking yesterday.
The House will recall that we had taken an attitude calculated to maintain peace when replying to the last note which we had received from the Chinese Government. It is clear from the kind of response which China has sent that what China is looking for is not a redress of grievances, real or imaginary, but some excuse to start its aggressive activities again, this time acting in collusion with its ally, Pakistan. The extension of the time-limit for the ultimatum was, in our view, no more than a device to gain time to watch what comes out of the discussions in the Security Council.
The allegations which China has been making in the series of notes that it has been sending to us, are such that they would hardly justify any civilised Government in having recourse to force, even if the allegations were true. If there are any structures on Chinese territory in areas where the border is delimited and not in dispute even according to the Chinese, surely, there is nothing to prevent the Chinese Government from having them removed, instead of suggesting to us that we should have them removed, which would only be possible by our men going into their territory. Similarly, no one can imagine that any Government would threaten another on the ground that their cattle have been lifted or on the ground that out of the thousands of Tibetans who have sought asylum in this country two or four are being detained here against their wishes.
To justify its aggressive attitude, China is pretending to be a guardian of Asian countries who, according to China, are being bullied by India. The basic objective of China, therefore, is to claim for itself a position of dominance in Asia which no self­ respecting nation in Asia is prepared to recognise. Large or small, strong or weak, every country in Asia has the fullest right to preserve its independence and sovereignty on terms of equality. The dominance of the Chinese cannot be accepted by any of them. We reject China's claim to tell us anything about what we should or should not do about Kashmir which is an integral part of India. Our offer of resolving the differences over these minor matters by peaceful means is still open.
However, China's aggressive intentions are clear from the fact that even while they have in their note extended the time-limit by 72 hours, in actual fact they have started firing at our border posts both in Sikkim and in Ladakh.
If, China persists in aggression, we shall defend ourselves by all means at our disposal.
A formal reply to the Chinese note will be sent later today.
May I say a word that we have just now received the full text of the resolution passed in the Security Council? Naturally, it deserves our very careful consideration, and I might be making a statement on that tomorrow in the House.

Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri's Statement in both the Houses of Parliament, 22 September, 1965

I place on the table of the House a copy of the Security Council resolution, dated the 20th September, 1965, relating to the current conflict between India and Pakistan-a conflict which commenced on the 5th August, 1965, when Pakistan launched a massive attack on India by sending thousands of armed infiltrators across the cease­ fire line in our State of Jammu and Kashmir.
As the Hon'ble Members would see, the Security Council had demanded that both Governments should order a cease-fire effective from 12-30 p.m. Indian Standard Time today, the 22nd September, 1965. On the question of cease-fire, the views of the Government of India were stated in detail and without any ambiguity in my letters of September 14 and 15, 1965, addressed to the Secretary­ General. As stated in these letters, the Government of India had clearly accepted that they would order a cease-fire without any preconditions on being informed that Pakistan had agreed to do the same. On receiving the Security Council resolution, therefore, we sent a communication to the Secretary-General, in accordance with our earlier stand, informing him that we would be prepared to issue orders for a simple cease-fire effective from the appointed time and date, provided Pakistan agreed to do likewise. A copy of this communication is also placed on the Table of the House.
Throughout yesterday, there was no further message from the Secretary-General, but in the early hours of this morning we received a message from him advising us to order a unilateral cease-fire in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Security Council resolution, with the proviso that our troops could fire back if they were attacked. This, of course, was entirely impossible. In a battle which is continuing, it is just not possible for one side to ask its soldiers to stop firing, leaving the other side free to continue its operations. Our representative at the United Nations was, therefore, instructed to inform the Secretary-General accordingly.
A further report was received a short while ago that at the request of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, an emergent meeting of the Security Council was convened, at which an announcement was made, on behalf of Pakistan that they also had agreed to issue orders for a cease-fire and cessation of hostilities. From our side, the requisite orders are now being issued to our field commanders to effect a complete cease-fire by 3-30 a.m. tomorrow morning.
The Security Council Resolution refers to other matters which will require consideration subsequently. However, the policy of the Government of India in regard to matters which are of vital importance to us and which relate to the present conflict, has been stated by me on more than one occasion on the floor of this House and also in my recent communications to the Secretary-General.
I do not propose to go into any further details at the present stage. Detailed discussions will have to take place and there would have to be a fuller study of the problems to which I have just referred. For this purpose, our representative at the United Nations will keep himself available to the Secretary-General.
There will now be a cessation of hostilities. Peace is good. However, there is still a threat from the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, which he held out today, while speaking in the Security Council. We have, therefore, to be very watchful and vigilant.
The nation has recently been going through its greatest trial. The times have been difficult but they have served a great purpose. The whole world knows now that the people of India-Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Parsees and others-constitute a united nation with a determined common will and purpose. On the battle front, the supreme sacrifice has been made by the members of all communities who have shown that they are Indians first and Indians last.
To our armed forces, I would like to pay on behalf of this Parliament and the entire country, our warmest tributes. By their valour and heroism, they have given a new confidence to the people of India. Those who have lost their beloved on the battle front, have made a contribution to the preservation of our independence which will never be forgotten by a grateful nation. Their sorrow and their pride are shared by the whole country.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would now seek your permission to express to all the members of this august House, to all the political parties in the country, to the leaders of public opinion, of labour organisations, of business and industry, and of many other voluntary associations, my feelings of the deepest gratitude. In the hour of trial each one of the 470 million people of this country stood up shoulder to shoulder to meet the challenge to our freedom.
I should like to inform the House that on 18th September, 1965, I received a message from Mr. Kosygin, Chairman of the Council of Ministers. USSR, offering his good offices for bringing about improved relations between India and Pakistan. Mr. Kosygin is impelled by noble intentions. No one can ever contest the view that ultimately India and Pakistan will have to live together as peaceful neighbours. We cannot therefore say no to any efforts, which may help to bring about such a situation, made by those who are sincere and genuine in their feelings of goodwill and friendship. I have therefore, informed Mr. Kosygin today that we would welcome his efforts and good offices.
I would also like to give the House some further details about the tragic incident in which the other day, we suffered a grievous loss. Investigations conducted on the spot show that the aircraft in which Shri Balvantray Mehta was travelling, was shot down by a Pakistani plane. The marks on the fuselage establish that gun fire had been used. Preliminary investigations by the Air Force authorities who also have visited the scene confirm that the aircraft was shot down at a low height. The ammunition recovered at the site of the crash also proves that the attacking aircraft was a Pakistani plane. That a non-combatant civilian aircraft should have been shot down in this manner is one of the most inhuman acts which we must all deplore and condemn. Shri Balvantrayji, his wife and the others who were travelling with him have laid down their lives at the altar of the freedom of the country. Their names will remain enshrined in our memory.
We are still faced with the Chinese ultimatum. The House is aware that almost at the same time when the Chinese Government announced the extension of the time-limit of the ultimatum to India by 72 hours on September 19, their troops started provocative activities at several points of the border. On the Sikkim border, about which the Chinese have been making baseless and threatening allegations, the Chinese troops crossed the well-known and delimited boundary at Dongchui La and Nathu La on 20th and 21st of September respectively. They fired at our observation posts. They have tried also to intrude into our other territories. Our armed forces have clear instructions to repel the aggressor.
Yesterday we sent a reply to the Chinese note of September 20 in which India was alleged to have intruded into Dum Chale and committed armed provocation. The Chinese charge was rejected as a fabrication and a cover-up for the intrusion and firing at Tsaskur to which I have referred a little while ago.
The House is aware that on September 19, the Chinese Government sent us a note couched in unbecoming language, extending the period of the ultimatum, making demands for destruction of military structures etc. A copy of our reply has been placed on the table of the House together with copies of two other notes we sent yesterday. Regarding the so-called military structures we have already told the Chinese Government that if after joint inspection any structures are found on the Tibetan side of the border there can be no objection to their being demolished. I have been told that China has announced that some of these so-called structures have been destroyed by our troops while withdrawing. All this is a product of their imagination.
I must tell the House that we view with grave concern the Chinese activities on the border and the armed intrusions into our territory. We have urged the Chinese Government in our note of September 21 replying to the Chinese note of September 19 to forsake the path of belligerence and intimidation and return to the path of peace and reason in its relations with India. I hope that even at this late hour China will respond to this call and prevent a major crisis.
We do not know what the Chinese will do next. We have, however, to remain vigilant all along the frontier.
There are times of the greatest trial for the nation, but the people all over the country are now in that mood which alone ensures the preservation of country's freedom. We may have to face many ups and downs, but I know the people have steeled themselves into a resolve to meet even this bigger challenge. On our Armed Forces, there may be a heavier responsibility. I have no doubt that they are in good spirits. We have no intention of underestimating the gravity of the situation. But we have resolved firmly to meet this challenge to our freedom.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Dalai Lama arrives in India: the border conflict with China starts

The Dalai Lama arrives in India (March 31, 1959)
Year 1959 was a turning for Tibet, but also for the Sino-Indian relations.
A turn for the worse for both, as in any case, the two are intimately linked.
I have posted on my website, a large number of archival 'declassified' documents, often difficult to find, on the happenings during year 1959.
It is called: “The 1959 Tibetan Uprising and its consequences”.
If you find time, read some of these historical documents.
There is no doubt that the events in Lhasa in March 1959, culminating by the uprising of the Tibetan ‘masses’ on March 10 and the subsequent flight to the Dalai Lama to India, triggered a chain of violent reactions from the part of the People’s Republic of China, which eventually ended in an open conflict in NEFA (today Arunachal Pradesh) and Ladakh in October 1962.
The correspondence between Jawaharlal Nehru the Indian Prime Minister and Zhou Enlai shows the rapid deterioration of the India-China relations after the Dalai Lama was offered asylum in April 1959.
Events in Ladakh with India realizing that China had built the Aksai Chin road across Indian territory, and in NEFA’s Subansiri Frontier Division (Longju) or Kameng Frontier Division (Khenzimani), are all collaterals of the Tibetans' arrival in India.

A ‘SECRET IMMEDIATE’ telegram (No. 4484- Circular) sent by India’s Foreign Secretary Subimal Dutt to all the Indian Missions abroad in August clearly shows the linkage.
Here is the text of the Foreign Secretary's message dated August 30, 1959:
We have transmitted to you by morse cast full text of the statement made by the Prime Minister in Parliament yesterday on the Chinese intrusion into our northern frontier in Ladakh and in the NEFA region. During recent weeks there has been mounting evidence of Chinese unfriendliness towards India. This has been causing concern to the Government and the people of India and there have been frequent questions in Parliament on the subject. There is also animated discussion in the press and despite our efforts at moderation Indian feelings are bound to be expressed in stronger language if the Chinese persist in their present course of action.

2. The Government of India attach importance to the maintenance of good relations and friendship with China and have always been anxious to do so. We can only attribute the present truculent mood of the Chinese authorities to their resentment at our having given asylum to the DALAI LAMA and the Tibetan refugees. Under international usage we could not refuse such asylum. There is not the slightest truth in the Chinese allegations that the recent disturbances in Tibet were directed from Kalimpong or that the Government or India are in some unexplained way responsible for these happenings. In fact we had nothing to do with the internal troubles in Tibet and were unaware of the Whereabouts of the DALAI LAMA until he had reached our border. As the Prime Minister made it clear in his statement before Parliament on April 27, India has no political interest in Tibet. We would naturally like to preserve our traditional cultural connections with Tibet and also to maintain, if possible, the age-old pilgrim traffic and trade with Tibet in the border areas. We have accepted Chinese suzerainty over Tibet and there is no question of our going back on it. At the same time the DALAI LAMA as the leader of a large section of Buddhists is held in respect by large masses of people in India and it is natural that the circumstances in which he had to seek shelter in India evoked the sympathies of large masses of people in India and several other countries in Asia. Under our Constitution Government cannot control discussions in the press or among the public on happenings, in other countries. Our Parliament is also sovereign within its sphere and questions in Parliament could not be suppressed by Government even if they wished to do so. We therefore consider it unreasonable on the part of the Chinese to expect us to suppress discussions on Tibet within the country or to regard such discussions as evidence of unfriendliness. We have already made it clear to the DALAI LAMA and the Tibetan refugees that we cannot recognize any Tibetan Government in India nor would we permit them to carry on hostile propaganda against any friendly country. At the same time it is not feasible under our constitutional procedures to gag the DALAI LAMA entirely. To suggest that the DALAI LAMA’S statements are being made with our previous knowledge or have our approval is entirely untrue. A year ago when the Chinese brought to our notice the alleged undesirable activities of some Tibetan refugees in our country, we took appropriate action and warned these people. In all our dealings with the DALAI LAMA and the Tibetan refugees we have been mindful of the need of avoiding needless irritation to the Chinese Government.

3. Unfortunately the Chinese have completely ignored our repeated reiteration of friendship for them. On the contrary they have adopted a policy of deliberate unfriendliness towards us.

4. Under the Sino-Indian Agreement of 1954 our Trade Agencies in Tibet are entitled to certain facilities. These have been denied by and large. Our Trade Agents are unable to secure suitable accommodation, the bag service between our Posts stands interrupted and they are being harassed in various small ways. A large number of persons of Indian origin have been resident in Lhasa for long years but have all the same maintained their separate group identity. Since before 1954 movement between India and Tibet was more or less tree and no documents of identity were required, these people had not taken up citizenship papers with them. They are now being prevented from contacting our Consulate and threatened with other unpleasant consequences. Similarly Indian traders in the border areas who were guaranteed certain facilities under the 1954 Agreement are finding it difficult to carry on their trade in view of many restrictions which have recently been imposed.

5. What is even more serious, the Chinese have launched on an active policy of violation of international frontier and intrusion into our territory. Large areas of Indian territory in the frontier region have been shown in the Chinese maps in the past as part of Chinese territory. We repeatedly drew the attention of the Chinese authorities to this incorrect representation of facts. Although Premier CHOU EN-LAI assured our Prime Minister in personal, discussions in 1956-57 that they would in practice respect the existing border even though they could not accept it as legally valid, the Chinese Premier seems to have gone back on this position in the correspondence which took place between December last year and February this year. In his letter of January 23, discussing the so-called McMahon Line in the north-east border, Premier CHOU EN-LAI referred to various complex factors and the need for surveys and consultations with the countries concerned etc. and left the matter rather vague. Our Prime Minister wrote a detailed letter to him on this subject in February this year. This letter still remains unanswered. We had however hoped that in the meantime the traditional border would be respected. This hope has not been fulfilled. On the contrary, a number of incidents have taken place last year and this year which have caused concern and resentment in India. At the end of July a strong Chinese detachment came into our territory in the Ladakh frontier and arrested a small Indian reconnaissance party within our area. Strong Chinese detachments also came into our territory at a number of places in the north-east frontier across the so-called, McMahon Line within the last few weeks. Only 4 days ago they fired on one of our frontier outposts and overran it and occupied a portion of our territory. We have still no information about our personnel who were manning that post. We have to resist such illegal intrusion into our territory and for any unfortunate consequences resulting from our defensive measures the responsibility must be that of the Chinese Government.

6. We deplore the present situation. It is to the interest of both China and India and world peace in general that India and China should remain firm friends. Unfortunately, although we have sent a large number of notes and representations to the Chinese Government, most of them remain unanswered. We can only attribute the present Chinese policy to serious misunderstanding of our intentions towards Tibet, but we hope other countries will not be misled by Chinese propaganda. We understand that Chinese have in fact started insidious propaganda against India among socialist and non-aligned countries.

7. We would like you to explain our policy and attitude to the Government to which you are accredited.

A special note for K.P.S. Menon, the Indian Ambassador to Soviet Union reads: “We would like you to explain our position as in the foregoing paragraphs if possible to Mr. KHRUSHCHEV personally. If you want any further information, please let us know immediately. We also propose to speak to the Soviet Ambassador here.”