Times of India, 20 December 2016
NEW DELHI: India must raise Tibet with China as this is vital not only to its security but also environment and economic interests as China is furiously building dams in a region that feeds major Indian rivers, Lobsanga Sangay, PM of Tibet’s government in exile, tells Rajeev Deshpande .
How do you see the Tibetan movement more than five decades after the Dalai Lama reached India? What are your expectations from India and China?
If you think of the occupation of Tibet when so many monasteries were destroyed, we have survived. Our culture and our identity is still very strong, mainly thanks to India. Tibetans have trained and gone back to keep their culture alive. Our movement is now more democratic, we run schools, cultural centres and have foreign partners. Since my election in 2011, there is a separation of church and state.Geopolitics has seen China grow stronger politically and economically. But its rise is not benign and I see people paying attention to the Tibet issue.
How do you say this?
Business and other lobbies in the West said don’t criticise China’s human rights. This will save China’s face… if you raise it quietly, things will improve. But this didn’t happen.
There is a view in India that successive governments here gave up on Tibet, accepting the Chinese position. Do you see any room for change?
There is a realisation in Indian intelligence and other circles that Tibet is vital. Tibet is the water tower with millions depending on glaciers that feed major rivers. China is building dams after dams. So, suddenly , water is a vital issue for India. I hope India makes Tibet a core issue with China. It should make it part of formal dialogue.
China refuses to accept the Dalai Lama‘s authority and, of course, yours. What can you expect?
Formally they criticise his holiness and Xinhua has called me names. But informally, they do acknowledge. From 2002 to 2010, envoys met. No meeting since then even though we seek autonomy within the framework of Chinese constitution.This shows that China is different when it thinks it is strong.
How will Tibetans look at your government since they have usually rallied to the religious leadership?
Even with religious leaders, Tibetans look for learning and wisdom. Participation in our party-less polls is growing. Our unifying factor is our homeland.
The Dalai Lama has said there may not be a successor. How do you see this?
His holiness can go into a Buddhist dialectic mode! If you ask -`are you going to be the last Dalai Lama’, he may say possible. Or could he be Spanish or a woman? Possible! He is a monk who has vowed to renounce the sansarik world. He also says it is for the Tibetan people to decide.I believe he will come back. There will be a 15th Dalai Lama.
So it cannot be someone the Chinese pick?
Impossible. They destroyed Tibet’s monasteries, they say religion is poison. How can they choose the next Dalai Lama. Can Sitaram Yechury pick a shankaracharya or an imam?
What about Karmapa Thinley Dorje?