Delhi: President Dr Lobsang Sangay of the Central Tibetan Administration delivered the 3rd Professor ML Sondhi Memorial Lecture at India International Centre, Delhi on 14 December 2017. Dr Sangay, spoke on the theme ‘Tibet holds the key to Beijing’ which was the topic of an article written by Professor ML Sondhi in 1992 for The Telegraph.
The chief guest at the lecture was Shri Ram Madhav, National General Secretary of BJP, India’s ruling party and a writer, scholar and an intellectual. Audience at the talk included high profile personalities including former ambassadors, former foreign secretaries, retired military generals and strategic thinkers.
In his speech, Dr Sangay spoke about China’s new era declared by President Xi Jinping and how the world order will be affected by China’s transformation, and the significance of Tibet as the key to understanding a rising China.
“Xi Jinping in his three hours speech, spoke about Socialism with Chinese characteristic in the new era. What it essentially means is that there will be no liberal democracy, no freedom of speech and no rule of law, it is essentially a one party law,” the CTA President said.
“As China transforms into a global superpower, we have no choice. Either we transform China into a Buddhist-based democracy or China transforms you,” Dr Lobsang Sangay added.
“In this context, the Late Professor ML Sondhi was prophetic. From the very beginning, he said Tibet is the core issue between India and China relationship.”
“Had India taken a stand in 1950s and 1960s on Tibet, China would have been pushed back or at least could have been paused, but no one took a stand and allowed China to come to the border of India. Now we have a 3500-km long border, which never existed before between India and Tibet in the past. Now they are entering Droklam because we let them come to Tibet.”
He also recalled Prof Sondhi’s recommendation about declaring Tibet as ‘a zone of peace’ that will act as a buffer between India and China.
“For decades, the late professor ML Sondhi have said that the least India could do is to declare Tibet as a zone of peace and a buffer zone. At least denuclearize Tibet. However, no one spoke and no one came out in support of Professor ML Sondhi.”
“If those conditions were put on the table and you have accepted Tibet as a zone of peace, at least there won’t be any nuclear war nor would there be 1,800 Chinese troops standing at Droklam, as we speak today. Hence, Tibet is a litmus test for Beijing and holds the “key” to understanding China in many ways and also is a potential catalyst to bring about changes inside China,” he said,
Dr Sangay also spoke about Tibet as the water tower of Asia as Tibet is the source of Asia’s major rivers. He highlighted China’s rampant mining and destruction of Tibet’s fragile environment in the name of development and called on China to restore the stewardship of Tibetan plateau to its original and natural custodian, the Tibetans.
He further compared China’s belt and road initiative with the occupation of Tibet. “We lost our country because of one belt and one road. Tibet is the key to unravel the deception, the strategy, the execution, and Tibet could be the catalyst to push back on China. Hence Prof. ML Sondhi’s prophetic stand on Tibet should be the core issue between India and China,” he emphasised.
Madhuri Santanam Sondhi, the Chairperson of the Professor ML Sondhi Memorial Trust and Director of ML Sondhi Institute for Asia Pacific Affairs, gave the welcome speech. In her welcome remarks, She applauded the democratic establishment of the Central Tibetan Administration and the tibetan people’s peaceful movement to restore freedom.
She also underlined the importance of Tibet in the Sino-Indian relationship and how Tibet due to its geo-strategic location can bring about peace between the two Asian giants.
Quoting from the late Professor ML Sondhi’s article titled Tibet holds a Key to Beijing, she said: “there is simply no way in which India can ignore strategic location of Tibet as the heart of Asia. As long as long it remains a location for missile bases and for bombers and missiles targeted at Indian citizens and cantonments, there can be no real agreements between the two biggest states of Asia.”
Shri Lalit Mansigh, the trustee of the Professor ML Sondhi Memorial Trust cited that His Holiness the Dalai Lama in his recent interview in a newspaper has mentioned that ‘Tibet could ultimately control China through Buddhism,’ and he raised a question that how Tibet can controls China? But then he said it could be possible by narrating how Mahatma Gandhi with his non-violence movement defeated mightiest empire in the world with his walking stick.
“Mahatma Gandhi and His Holiness the Dalai Lama must be considered as some of the most brilliant strategic thinkers of their time even if it goes against the conventional wisdom,” he added.
“His Holiness is the most powerful deterrent against China. It is a deterrent which has more explosive power than the entire nuclear arsenal combine together,” he continued.
“As long as His Holiness the Dalai Lama is in India, with India, India is safe against China.”
“Just as Buddha has come from across the mountains to India, spent his life in India. We, in this generation is blessed that His Holiness has come from across the mountain to spend his lifetime with us. I am sure you will join me for praying for his long life and strength and eventually seeing Tibet liberated in his lifetime.” Shri Lalit Mansingh
Shri Ram Madhav, the Chief Guest of the event is the National General Secretary of the BJP has written a book titled ‘Uneasy Neighbors: India and China after Fifty Years of the War’, 2014. His book provides historical narrations of events involving Tibet, India and China from 1947 onwards. It shows how India retreated from her initial stand inherited from the British which included Tibet’s sovereignty and Chinese Suzerainty formula.
“Without proper appreciation of cultural roots of our civilization we cannot find proper solution, not just Tibet as alone. One of the problem is to develop proper a strategic culture in this country,” Shri Ram Madhav said.
“Somehow we have problem that never bother to understand our neighbor, probably we are romantic nation and our foreign policy is driven by romantic idea. I am a firm believer that romanticism must end and it has to be pragmatic policy as in question of Tibet,” he added.
“I believe the path chosen by His Holiness the Dalai Lama of engaging with Chinese leadership to have meaningful, beneficial and acceptable settlement relationship for the future of Tibet with China is the best available option today,” he further added.
“We have great respect to Tibetan living in exile. Government of India is extending all support for Tibetans. Although at the moment, it is between the Central Tibetan Administration and China. Whenever there is required, Indian Nation will stand up for Tibet,” he said.
Report filed by correspondent Tenzin Jigme Tayde, DIIR Social Media Executive