DHARAMSHALA: Kalon Tripa Dr Lobsang Sangay today inaugurated ‘Tibet: The Third Pole & Its Global Significance’, a one-day conference organised by the Tibet Policy Institute at Gangchen Kyishong.
The chief guest at the inaugural session was Mr Dalip Mehta, a former Indian ambassador to Bhutan and various other Central Asian Republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Thanking Mr Dalip Mehta for gracing the conference with his presence, Kalon Tripa said the idea behind the formation of the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI) is to create an intellectual hub here in Dharamshala where experts will be invited to speak on a weekly or monthly basis.
“Since it’s launch, TPI has organised many seminars but this is the first conference where a panel discussion is being held. Soon, we will have two panel discussions a year, a day-long conference and another major conference which could be two-three days long,” he said.
Speaking on the topic of the conference, he said Tibet is accurately called the Third Pole by some scientists as it has the third highest concentration of ice and snow after the Antartic and the Arctic.
“Unlike the Antartic and the Arctic, Tibet has major global significance because when Tibet’s ice melts, it converts into fresh water and contributes to about 10 major rivers of the world including the Brahmaputra, Indus, Mekong, Yangtze and the Yellow river which is the basis of China’s civilization,” he said.
“Wars have been fought over land before, wars are being fought for energy now and very soon wars will be fought over water,” he said.
He also questioned the benefits and the risk factors associated with the damming of many of the Tibetan rivers by the Chinese government.
He concluded by saying the significance of Tibet’s environment transcends much beyond our national borders and added that saving Tibet is saving yourself.
Dr Dalip Mehta, the chief guest, spoke about the relevance of Tibet from the point of view of regional security.
“It is unacceptable to say that peace in Asia, to a very large extent, depends on the relationship between India and China,” he said.
‘Until China invaded Tibet in 1949, Tibet throughout its independent existence, had been a zone of peace and a source for regional stability being an effective space between Asia’s two largest and most populous nations namely China and India.’
“The geopolitical reality changed after Tibet’s occupation by China. India and China now shares a long and dangerously militarised border of over 4500 kms with claims and counter claims, and which had led to a war between these two nations in 1962,” he said.
“Today, India and China are both nuclear powers with regional and global aspirations with Tibet no longer as the buffer state. And herein lies the significance of Tibet in India’s relation with China,” he said.
He also raised issues regarding the dumping of nuclear waste in Tibet, the heavy militarisation of the region and the 1,100 kms rail link between Lhasa and Golmud which was aimed to enable a rapid transport of troops and military hardware.
“China can now deploy 12 PLA divisions in Tibet against India at a very short notice, courtesy this rail link,” he asserted.
He said the implications of the Chinese activities in Tibet are irreversible and that India should strongly support His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s middle way approach as it is the only workable way to bring about a reconciliation between the Tibetans and the Chinese.
He concluded his indictment by asserting that a safe Tibet is fundamentally about securing Asia’s future.
The conference also featured other speakers like Mr Matthew Akester, an independent researcher who spoke about the rampant mining in Tibet, Mr Tsering Dhondup and Mr Tenzin Norbu, researchers from the Central Tibetan Administration’s Environment Desk as well as Mr Thinley Jigme, Mr Tenzin Dheden and Prof. Ngawang Phuntsok.