Calling himself a son of India, the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the Tibetan Buddhists, on Tuesday praised the "non-sectarian principles" of the country on the 50th anniversary of his escape from Tibet.
"The non-sectarian principles are very much alive in this country. Fifty years ago, I came to India as a 24-year-old homeless refugee and have been greatly inspired since then by great leaders like (first prime minister) Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru," he said.
"I call myself a son of India. Over the years Tibetans have developed very close ties with the country," the Dalai Lama told a crowded press conference in New Delhi.
He escaped from the Norbulingka Palace in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, during the night of March 17, 1959, after a failed uprising and the collapse of the Tibetan national resistance movement against the Chinese communist regime. He reached India after a 14-day trek through the Himalayan mountains.
March 31 is observed by the Tibetans in exile as the "National Uprising Day".
"I personally think my life in India has been very meaningful and I have gathered experience from followers of other traditions like Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism," said the spiritual leader, who visited eight places of worship in the capital on Tuesday morning as part his mission to spread communal harmony and secularism.
The Dalai Lama, who has been engaged in talks with the Chinese government for an amicable solution to the Tibetan refugee issue, said, "It is very difficult to say what will happen after 50 years between Tibet and China. But we definitely have more support and solidarity from within the Chinese community."
"Recently, I was in Poland and I found that the feeling of solidarity in the European Union for the Tibetan cause was very strong. We are not seeking secession, but total autonomy," the Dalai Lama said.
In the last round of negotiations, the Tibetan government in exile, based in Dharamsala in India, had been able to hand over a more detailed memorandum to the Chinese government explaining how to implement the new constitution it drafted for an autonomous Tibet, said Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile, which is not recognised by any nation.
The Dalai Lama urged the media to investigate "if the situation in Tibet was as peaceful as the Chinese government claimed or there was resentment".
"Everyone - the European countries, Australia, North America, Australia, Japan and New Zealand - knows about our position, but the Chinese... It is your responsibility to make it clear to your government. Otherwise, your reportage is meaningless," he told a correspondent from China.
The Dalai Lama said Tibetans were looking at a legitimate autonomy that would enable them to live within the framework of the People's Republic of China.
After the "crackdown" by the Chinese authorities on Tibetan protesters in 2008, majority of the Tibetans preferred a middle-way policy, he said.
"We are committed to ahimsa (non-violence) and peaceful negotiations," the Dalai Lama said.
Falling back on the history of Tibet-China ties, he said while signing the 17-point agreement, former Chinese premier Zhou Enlai said autonomy was a reasonable demand.