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Seminar on Indo-China relations vis-a-vis Tibet gets rousing response

Date: Monday, 11-August-2008
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By Tenzin Pema Chashar
August 10, 2008

Bangalore, Aug 10 -- A seminar on 'Indo-China relations vis-a-visTibet,' organised by the South Zone Tibetan Settlements SolidarityCommittee, received a rousing response from the nearly 300participants that included both Indians and Tibetans. The seminar,which was held in St. Joseph's College of Commerce, brought to thefore important issues concerning the two great Asian powers, Chinaand India, as well as the implications that their relationship has onTibet and on the future of the Tibetan people.

The participants included Indian residents of Bangalore, ABVP,students from National Law School and other colleges, as well asTibetans studying and working in the city.

The eminent speakers at the seminar included Shri A.P. Venkateswaran,former Foreign Secretary of the Government of India, Dr. U.R.Ananthamurthy, Jnanpeeth awardee, Dr. P.A. Mathew, Professor ofEconomics at Christ College, and Mrs. Dolma Gyari, Deputy Speaker ofthe Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. All four shed light on the changingrelationship between India, China and Tibet, as well as on India'spolicies on Tibet, while laying special emphasis on trade relationsbetween the two Asian giants and likely impact on Tibet from this.

Mr. Venkateswaran, during his speech, traced the history that sawTibetans -- till then a part of an independent nation -- suddenlypowerless, with their leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama forced toseek refuge in India for his people. He lay emphasis on the fact thatthe Dalai Lama chose the path of non-violence, propagating all thatthe great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi stood for, even asVenkateswaran spelt out the key differences between India's Gandhiand China's Mao-Tse-Tung . Gandhi and Mao differed in that one chosethe path of non-violence whilst the other chose violence as a meansto gain freedom for their land, Venkateswaran said.

The former Foreign Secretary warned that China was making a hugemistake if her government was awaiting the period after the DalaiLama, saying he believed that at such a time, the Tibetan people mayadopt a more radical approach.

Another speaker who brought to light the importance of Tibet in thecontext of not only India but of the world, was Mr. Ananthamurthy. Ata time "...when everything is destroyed in the name of globalisation,we need the Tibetan wisdom, Tibetan culture and the Tibetan way oflife," he said. The academic also added that Tibet's future wasespecially important to India as the former had preserved much ofIndia's great texts of historical and spiritual value.

Ananthamurthy drew loud applause from the audience when he proclaimed"I want Tibet to be free," while stressing on the need for a pluralsociety in the midst of globalization, where the whole world runs therisk of eating, drinking and wearing the same things.

Dr. Mathew also agreed, but cited the shift in the economicrelationship between India and China and the impact that this has onTibet. He negated the view that China was a communist nation, addingthat China lost this status when Deng Xiao-ping said, "It doesn'tmatter if the cat is white or black, as long as it catches the mice."China was instead a "market economy," that was choosing to blur itspolitical issues with many nations for the convergence of interest intrade, since they were aware that for economics to function, peaceand the right environment was needed.

Mathew painted a somewhat gloomy picture when he spoke about the kindof people that were deciding the issues that would or would not bediscussed; these people included company heads who have their owninterests at stake, politicians, investors and the like. He, however,cited his observation that Tibetans were forever "hopeful that Tibetwill be free," and said "hope" was a crucial quality that Tibetanshad and that this was indeed very necessary.

Mrs. Dolma also spoke about this quality of "hope," but she dwelledon the "hope" that India seemed to have on China each time she wantsthe other to solve a problem. She felt India was too "trusting"towards her neighbour, China, who Dolma said could not be trusted.

On India's policy on Tibet, Dolma said the government, contrary totheir oft-stated quote that theirs was a consistent policy on Tibet,had never had a consistent policy on Tibet. She cited the Indiangovernment's ever-changing policy on Tibet since the time Indiagained independence till date. The Deputy Speaker "hoped" the Indiangovernment would work towards a more long-lasting solution to theTibetan issue, which in the end would be beneficial to India as wellas to South Asia, she said, citing China's growing misuse of Tibet'spristine environment and her many water bodies for China's benefits.

A member from the audience, who had recently visited Tibet, secondedDolma's view, while other Indians gathered at the seminar pledgedtheir support for the Tibetan people and urged others in the city toactively raise their voice in protest against the growing suppressionwithin occupied Tibet.

Dolma also urged the Indians gathered to spread awareness about theTibetan issue among their own community, which she said would helpbring about a "people's mass movement" in the country. The DeputySpeaker profusely thanked India for all that India had done for theTibetans till date, while also thanking the South Zone SolidarityCommittee for organizing such an important event that broughttogether Indians and Tibetans.

"The aim of holding today's seminar was to reach out to Indianacademics, scholars and youngsters. And I felt that we had a lot ofstudents from law and journalism colleges, for whom the subject wasvery relevant. So based on the interaction we had from them, and thekind of interest they showed, I certainly feel that the event was asuccess," Mrs. Tsering Youdon, Chairperson of the South Zone TibetanSolidarity Committee, said.

Ms. Youdon, also a Member of the Tibetan Parliament in Exile, addedthat based on the success of today's event, the committee wouldseriously consider holding more such events to spread awareness amongthe Indian community.

The Tibetan Solidarity Committee is an initiative by the TibetanGovernment-in-Exile, started after the recent crisis that sprung inTibet following the March 10 protests.

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