Twice during this year have I had the good fortune and privilege of sharing the dias with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The first occasion was during the Kumbh Mela at Haridwar in April. I have already written about the two events where we were together- one the launching of the Hindu Encyclopedia and the second the Sparsh Ganga project launched by the Uttarakhand State Government to cleanse the Ganga. Last week at the Suraj Kund near Delhi, the Tibet Support Groups across the world organised their Sixth International Conference.
This three-day Conference (November 5-7) was attended by the Dalai Lama. I was asked to inaugurate the Conference which I did. The Conference was attended by over 260 delegates drawn from 56 countries of the world.
This was the sixth such Conference. The last one was held at Brussels. But this was the first time there were participants from mainland China and these strongly supported the Tibetan cause.
In my address to this international gathering of Tibetans, I recalled my meeting with the Chinese President Mr. Hu Jintao in New Delhi during his visit to India in November 2006, At this meeting I had urged the Chinese leader to create conditions in China which could enable the Dalai Lama to visit Tibet before the Beijing Olympics in October, 2008 Unfortunately, I said, China missed the opportunity.
Beijing, I mentioned in my address, should reach out to the Dalai Lama with the intention of a sincere and genuine dialogue. There can hardly be a more reasonable and peace-loving interlocutor for the resolution of the Tibetan issue than this living embodiment of the teachings of the Buddha.
In India’s long history, it has never sent armies to conquer other lands and establish an ‘Indian Empire’. I am reminded here of the tribute that Hu Shih (1891–1962), a renowned liberal Chinese scholar and China’s Ambassador to USA, paid to civilisational India: “India conquered and dominated Tibet culturally for twenty centuries without ever having sent a single soldier across her border.”
Civilisational India has given shelter to many persecuted communities. Among them were Zoroastrians, who had to leave their homeland. They could not go back because there was no homeland left for them. Almost everything of their religion was destroyed and they could stay back in Persia only by ceasing to follow their religion. Thus, they accepted the caring embrace of Mother India forever.
But that is not the case with the people of Tibet. They have their homeland, which is very dear to them. It is the land of their ancestors. It is the land of their magnificent monasteries. It is the land of bountiful natural wealth. It is their Holy Land.
And even though a lot of atrocities have been committed and much of the cultural and spiritual heritage of Tibet has been damaged — most of all during China’s shockingly mis-named ‘Cultural Revolution (1967-77)—, Tibet continues to be the Home Land and Holy Land of the Tibetan people.
Therefore, I do hope and pray that a day will come soon when His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan people living in forced exile are able to go back to their Home Land and Holy Land in an honourable and dignified way, and thereafter be able to build the future destiny of Tibet.
The course of world events during the twentieth century depended very much on the relationship between Washington and Moscow. The latter part of the last century witnessed the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany, and the disintegration of the U.S- S.R. It was then that Francis Fukuyama wrote his famous book The End of History. It was veritably an epitaph for Marxism.
I have a feeling that I shared with the Tibetan conclave last week that relationship between India and China will be one of the key determinants of the course of world history in the 21st century. There is no alternative, I said, to peaceful coexistence between India and China.
Despite our acute sense of betrayal by China in 1962 (Pandit Nehru actually could not bear the shock of that let-down), Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, first as E.A.Minister in Morarji Bhai’s Government and later as Prime Minister of the NDA Government for six year consciously exerted towards achieving this end.
I wish China realized that its expansionist statements such as those in relation to Arunachal and its tacit support to Pakistan’s hostile attitude towards India are stumbling blocks in the way of restoring normalcy between our two countries.
China and India are now recognised world wide as the two emerging great powers of Asia in the current century.
A highly commended book just published focusing on a comparison between these two countries has been written by Raghav Bahl, founder, controlling share holder and editor of Network 18. India’s largest news and business television network which is home to CNN and CNBC in the country.
The book bears a tell-tale title : “SUPER POWER? The Amazing Race Between China’s Hare and India’s Tortoise.”
The cover flap of this book sums up the author’s analysis in the following words:
“In the race to superpower status, who is likely to breast the tape-China’s hare or India’s tortoise? China’s awe-inspiring sweep, compared to India’s relatively mild rise, could tempt an easy answer. But history unfolds over time, and Bahl argues that the winner of the race with biggest stakes ever might not be determined by who is investing more and growing faster today, but by something slightly more intangible-who has superior innovative skills and more entrepreneurial savvy and is grappling with and expanding in the most intensely competitive conditions.”
It’s a MUST READ book !