What’s at stake for Northeast India in the Tibetan crises

By Halley Nongmaithem | The Northeast Today

ON THE WEB, 27 March 2017

Comparing Northeast India with Tibet is only apt and appropriate vis-à-vis their place in the Indian union and People’s Republic of China (PRC) respectively. Tibet had a kingdom which supposedly had a rich history, but so did the Manipuris, Ahoms, and Tripuris of Northeast India.

The idea of nation-states was an inevitable reality in the previous century, which saw Tibet coming under the fold of the PRC. So was the case in Northeast India. For instance, Manipur king was said to have been forcefully asked to sign the merger agreement by the Indian Union in 1949. But that is in the past.

Tibetan exodus and its impact in the 20th century

India and China had a long and peaceful civilization and history which catapulted in the Panchsheel Agreement in 1954 signed between Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai which emphasised on “peaceful co-existence and respect for each other’s sovereign territory”. Meanwhile in 1959, The 14th Dalai Lama along with “80,000 Tibetan troops” fled Tibet and reached India because communist Mao Zedong was an atheist and had no regard for Tibetan culture. This very reason was enough jolt to shake the trust between the relationship of the two Asian giants. The incursions, “Forward policy”, and the 1962 India-China war followed. Too much water has flowed under the bridge since then.

What’s at stake for Northeast India

The claim of Arunachal Pradesh by the Chinese started after the coming of the Tibetans. One of the Dalai Lamas in the olden days was from Tawang. To legitimize and counter the Indian policy, they started claiming Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet. India should decide what and which weighs more and bargain hard.

Again, the racism issue in a big way — with the fleeing from Bangalore started because of the sporadic incident against the Tibetans which went to be seen as an anti-northeast drive. (A huge chunk of Tibetans live in Karnataka and many see them as “stealing away” their livelihoods). This core issue should be acknowledged and addressed while dealing with the racial slur against the mongoloid stock.

It should also matter to the Northeast Indians that Tibetans — the refugees to be precise — enjoy much more privileges in mainland India while the marginalized Indians are left to fend themselves. Why can’t the government give the Northeast Indians settlement areas when they can spend multi-crores on the refugees by giving them places to settle?

Also, seeing the pampering of the Tibetan refugees, the pseudo liberals and psuedo intellectuals of India are demanding a place for Bangladeshi Muslims and Rohingya Muslims, and this will not only have a direct affect but the first casualty will be the Northeastern region and its people — in the region and mainland — fighting out for space and opportunities.

Diplomacy — not helping

Tibetans have a holier-than-thou attitude. We are so overdone with the diplomatic approach. 60 years of being here and they are reluctant and still thinking to take up citizenship while enjoying the fruits of being a permanent resident in the mainland region of India. Nobody has yet said anything against the Tibetans for being judged as against humanity. It is time to tell them to be less choosy and finicky. Time to call a spade a spade. ‘Free Tibet’ isn’t happening at all. Time to accept the truth and move forward. We don’t want any more refugees. India has to look after her homeless children first. In short, time to accept the citizenship or go back home.

Pay heed, GoI

Good India-China relationship is vital in this century. And not only is the Tibetans-in-exile who are in India -– a stumbling block to a trustworthy India-China relation — but they are eating up spaces, resources, and opportunities in mainland India which should instead be given to the marginalized Northeast Indians as their birthright.

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