GUWAHATI: President Dr Lobsang Sangay of the Central Tibetan Administration today addressed more than 1000 strong students and faculty members of Guwahati university in Guwahati.
Speaking about ‘Role of India and The Future of Tibet’, President Dr Sangay spoke about the rise of nationalistic fervour and extremism, and the subsequent decline of liberalism and internationalism around the world. He talked about violence as an accompanying feature of extreme nationalism and said that the ideas of liberalism and internationalism should be embraced and promoted to achieve genuine peace.
Speaking about the rise of India and China on the global stage, Dr Sangay outlined the stark contrast between these two rising powers. He described China’s ideology as development without democracy while India follows a more rational approach of marrying development and democracy.
He further described China’s new era promulgated by President Xi Jinping at the recently concluded 19th national congress as an ‘era of expansionism’. He recalled the Doklam stalemate and China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative as some of the examples that reflect China’s growing expansionist designs.
“The reality of Confucianist China’s expansionist design is being reflected all over the world today especially in India and Southeast Asia. The controversy over the Scarborough shoals in the Philippines and the border disputes in Arunachal and Ladakh are just some of the examples of their expansionist design,” he said.
Highlighting the case of Tibet as a lesson for the world to learn from, Dr Sangay urged countries around the world to not be fooled by China’s economic largesse.
“What has happened in Tibet sixty years ago is a blueprint of what is happening around the world today. China has come into Tibet singing a happy song of peace and prosperity before occupying Tibet with brutal military force,” he said.
“It all started with the building of a road. With the road came trucks followed by guns and tanks. And before we knew it, Tibet was occupied. Now we see China building roads, co-opting business and political leaders with bribes and kickbacks around the world. This is all reminiscent of what has happened in Tibet,” he said.
He lamented the fact that no country stood up for Tibet when it was occupied by China and he cites this as one of the reasons that has emboldened China to proceed with its signature foreign policy of expansion and coercion.
“Not speaking up for Tibet was not only morally wrong but also a costly mistake. Had the international community stood up for Tibet, China wouldn’t have thought of itself as an invincible power today,” he added.
Dr Sangay also described Tibet as the litmus test for the world and said that the Tibetan movement should succeed because it is not only morally just, but also peaceful and non violent.
“Violent movements usually grab more headlines whereas peaceful movements are ignored. This sends a distressing message that violence is more powerful than non-violence. We need to change that and for that to happen, the peaceful Tibetan movement should succeed to restore faith in non violence,” he explained.
Dr Lobsang Sangay further spoke about the historical relations that Tibet and India shared over the centuries and how the bond has strengthened the two countries respectively.
He particularly spoke about Tibetan Buddhism, which has become a symbol of Tibetan resilience and scholarship. He explained how Tibetan scholars crossed the Himalayas to study Buddhism in India and how it flourished inside Tibet.
“Although the prestigious Nalanda University in India is now completely destroyed, the essence of Buddha’s teachings are now preserved in its entirety only in the Tibetan language. Over 300 volumes of Buddha’s teachings are available in Tibetan language while others have only about a dozen or so,” he said. He explained that this shows the strength of Tibetan scholarship and the importance of Tibetan language in terms of cultural preservation.
He further outlined Tibetan Buddhism as a key outcome of Tibetan resilience. “When Tibet was occupied, at least 98% of the monasteries and 99% of monks and nuns were disrobed. China has tried to completely annihilate Tibetan Buddhism but the Tibetan people rebuilt the monasteries brick by brick from the ashes of destruction,” he said.
“It is now not only thriving but growing all over the world including China. This would come as a rude shock to Mao if he were alive today to see that his aim of destroying Tibetan Buddhism has not only failed but has come back full circle to grow in China as well,” he concluded.
Following the talk, President Dr Sangay met Shri Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister of Education, Health and Finance in the state government of Assam. They discussed the issue of Tibet and the Tibetan freedom movement in exile during the meeting.