CHENNAI, India, 31 October 2017
Some recent observations in social media by Tibetans living as refugees or citizens in other countries give an impression that they may be losing confidence that independence of Tibet would happen in their lifetime. Some of them seem to think that such hope of Tibetan independence is an unrealistic dream.
To some extent, the Dalai Lama, a venerable leader of great stature, seems to have given room for such feelings by making observations on more than one occasion in recent times that he would be satisfied if Tibet would be given full autonomy within the overall governance of China, and that he would not demand complete independence for Tibet.
Of course, some amongst Tibetans have expressed surprise at this stand. It appears that, as yet, the Dalai Lama has not explained in public the logic or justification for diluting the target of independent Tibet.
Things don’t look good right now
In any case, it is very clear that the present Chinese government has no intention of conceding the demand for either independence of Tibet or autonomy status for Tibet.
Apart from the fact that the Dalai Lama seem to have diluted his desire for independence of Tibet by asking for autonomy status, the ground reality is that no country in the world has shown a readiness to condemn openly China’s aggression in Tibet. This seems to have shaken the confidence of Tibetans living around the world that Tibet’s independence would be possible in the foreseeable future.
Barack Obama, recent President of the United States, also contributed significantly in demolishing the confidence of Tibetans by receiving the Dalai Lama through the back door in White House — as if he was making some mistake, or was afraid of antagonizing the Chinese government.
China knows it is doing wrong
Nevertheless, one should not miss the fact that the Chinese government is aware that there is underlying feeling amongst a cross-section of world citizens that Tibet has been taken over unjustifiably by China’s military might. China is acutely aware that it has virtually destroyed Tibetan culture and tradition and that the world knows it, and China further knows that this fact cannot be concealed in world history in future.
Given this ground reality, China clearly has apprehensions about the world’s view on it’s occupation of Tibet. It vehemently protests even if the government of a small country would officially receives the Dalai Lama. China objects strongly to any recognition for the Dalai Lama anywhere in the world, since it knows that the Dalai Lama represents a strong moral force, and that the Tibetan cause and the plight of Tibetans can potentially prick the conscience of the world in future.
In recent times, after Mr Modi became the Prime Minister of India, the Indian government has exhibited the courage of its convictions to stand against China as far as the treatment extended to the Dalai Lama and Tibetans in India are concerned. Certainly, Tibetans across the world should gain confidence from the no-nonsense attitude of the Narendra Modi government, which is standing up to China with regard to the importance given to the Dalai Lama and Tibetans in India.
Never give up
It is a fact that most Tibetans living around the world today have not seen Tibet or touched the soil of Tibet, as Tibet lost its freedom around 60 years back. Quite a number of them are citizens of other countries. However, it is very important that they keep the Tibetan pride in their families for all time to come, and continue to cherish the thought of independent Tibet.
Tibetans should not let China have the last laugh with regard to the occupation of Tibet. Tibetans should keep their belief and faith that independence of Tibet would be possible and should keep their spirit alive and strong, by constantly discussing the cause of Tibet in world forums wherever possible.
There is also need for the Dalai Lama to think what would happen to the Tibetan cause after his time, since today the Dalai Lama represents the voice of Tibetans and has a very strong moral power which China too recognizes.
Tibetans need to plan their strategies for an independent Tibet under the guidance of the Dalai Lama by organizing brain-storming session in different parts of the world. Such strategies should be widely communicated to the Tibetans and friends of Tibet all over the world.
Tibetans should remember that faith and belief have historically changed the tide of misfortune, and that without faith and belief, no cause can be achieved.
About the author
NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as a social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice for the Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden, and working for probity in public life.
More articles by NS Venkataraman on Tibet Sun.