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India: Tibet, the Olympic Torch and the Dalai Lama

Categories: East Asia, South Asia, China, India, Human Rights, International Relations, Migration & Immigration, Protest, Refugees, Sport

In this week's roundup of virtual India we look at Tibet in India. Next week the Olympic torch arrives in India. First, Indian footballer Bhaichung Bhutia pulled out, and now Supercop Kiran Bedi has pulled out. However, well-known Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar will be carrying the Olympic torch writes enga. area [1] and adds:

“Sachin actually volunteered himself to carry the torch.Sachin called Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi and expressed his wish to join the other sportsmen who are selected to participate in the Olympic torch relay.”

Tendulkar's decision to carry the Olympic torch was greeted with mixed reactions. Kartikeya [2] of Desicritics writes:

“A great sportsman like Tendulkar should know better than to carry the Olympic torch when others like Kiran Bedi have refused to do so. We can blame the politics of it all, but the simple point is, that it is our Government, and it is our character which is revealed. We ought not to sacrifice it at the altar of “interest”.

While quite a few well-known Indian celebrities have pulled away from participating in the Olympic torch rally it looks like the Left Parties in India have remained consistent in their stand in supporting China or the People's Republic of China (PRC). Jokes From Indian Left writes in his post titled Hypocrisy of the Indian Left Parties [3]:

“Concerned that Tibetan protesters may succeed, CPM politburo member Sitaram Yechury called upon the government on Wednesday to see that there were no disruptions. Mr Yethury, It so sounds like you are more worried that Fire may get Hurt when a person attempts self-immolation bids.”

Prem Panickar [4] underscores the dichotomy in Comrade Prakash Karat's stand vis-a-vis China and the USA. Karat is a well-known communist leader  and is the General Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Panickar writes:

“The Prakash Karats of this world, who spout reams about “national sovereignty’ when it comes to discussing the India-US civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, seem to be totally a-okay with this [5]—a Chinese team on India soil to take over security responsibilities of a public event that should be the internal concern of India’s police and security apparatus alone…”

Well-known travel writer Pico Iyer's new book about the Dalai Lama is a timely one and has once again drawn the world's attention to Tibet. Iyer's new book: The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama has received some wonderful reviews and Abhi of Sepia Mutiny [6] writes:

“Instead of treating him merely as a figure to be awed, Iyer describes him as “Forrest Gumpish,” simple yet revolutionary. He is a religious leader who is actively attempting to weaken the dogma of his own religion.”

Read the rest of the post and also discover what novelist Pankaj Mishra has to say about Iyer's book.

I wrote a post summing up the various interviews and review of Pico Iyer, Dalai Lama and Tibet [7]:

“What runs as a red skein in the various reviews and interviews with Iyer about Dalai Lama is the non-violent way in which the Tibetan leader seeks to resolve a long-standing issue over the autonomy of Tibet with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).  It is close to 50 years since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet and settled in India.”

What about the Tibetans, who live in India? What do they think of their homeland and going back there? Outside of Tibet, the most number of Tibetans live in India. They live in different parts of India in states like Himachal Pradesh (where Dharamsala is located) to Uttaranchal, Karnataka and New Delhi. What goes through the minds of the young Tibetans, who live in India? Mayank Sufi Austen [8] talks to a young Tibetan who went back to Lhasa and says;

“I was a foreigner in my homeland. I didn't know Chinese and it was everywhere. In restaurants, menus would be written in Chinese and I would ask stewards what was what. I would pass by the city's only theater that screened Hollywood films, dubbed only in Chinese. It was difficult to make out things. I was lost.”