Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has said India’s 'over-cautious' attitude towards Tibet was creating 'resentment' among Tibetans and urged India to periodically review its Tibet policy. His critical comments, that are likely to raise concerns in the Indian foreign policy establishment, came during an unusually forthright and candid interview to Karan Thapar, to be aired on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate programme at 8:30 pm on Sunday.
"Usually I say the Government of India’s attitude or policy regarding China in general and particularly regarding the Tibet issue is over-cautious. But sometimes certain attitudes create more resentment with Tibetans," the 71-year-old Tibetan leader said.
The Dalai Lama was responding to questions about the lengths to which, the Indian government had gone to ban Tibetan protestors during the visit last year by Chinese President Hu Jintao.
It is likely the Tibetan community in India, which is increasingly questioning the Dalai Lama's approach to Beijing, is also resentful of China having recently been given observer status to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing visited New Delhi earlier this week to be a part of summit-level regional deliberations at which the Tibetans have no voice.
“I think the Government of India’s policy on Tibet (has been there) since the early 50s. So as a government its difficult to change. If some mistake happens its difficult to change. But I think its very important to review from time to time,” the Tibetan head monk who was given asylum by India in the late 1950’s, said.
When asked about the views of some strategic experts that it would be in India’s interest “to quietly re-open the issue of Chinese annexation of Tibet and its failure to grant autonomy to the Tibetans”, the Dalai Lama replied, “That’s sounds very nice. Whether its realistic or not I do not know. But it sounds nice.”
The Dalai Lama, who said he had accepted Chinese rule over Tibet, however dismissed Chinese claims of having given autonomy to Tibet. "At the moment, (there is) rule of terror. That's a reality," he said. “Tibet is actually ruled by terror, the rule of terror. The Tibetans should have the final authority, except foreign affairs and defence. The rest of the business Tibetans can handle even better because they know Tibetan mentality, Tibet’s geographical situation. So that is the meaning (of the autonomy) I am seeking. At present on paper there’s autonomy but in reality, every key position is occupied by Chinese who have no idea of past events, of Tibetan culture or Tibetan habits or mentality,” he said.
“Now the whole world knows I am not seeking independence. But as far as past history is concerned I always make it clear that the past is past,” he said.
Asked if he sought autonomy and demilitarization of Tibet as a precondition to talks with Beijing, the Dalai Lama said it was not a precondition, but a dream.
"I think they (the Chinese) did not carefully read my statement in the 1980s. My meaning (was that) eventually with agreement with India and other neighbouring states, Tibet hopefully should be a zone of peace, demilitarised. That's just my dream," he said. “Tibet is a backward country, economically, materially, therefore for our own interest as far as material development is concerned we want to remain within the People’s Republic of China.”