Skip to main content

India 'fails' to see: Occupying Tibet, China controls geopolitics of 10 Asian countries

By Badri Narayanan S*

It has been over 70 years since one of the most beautiful and peaceful world nations was calm for the last time. In 1950, Communist China, in a violent show of force, invaded and conquered Tibet. From then to till now, Tibetans living in Tibet and in-exile are trying to free their home. But unfortunately, the rest of the world has moved on without batting an eye. Even India, Tibet's neighbour, did not do much, other than providing shelter, to help the Tibetan cause.
It never fails to amaze how the world has never given the due consideration that Tibetans needed. In a matter of a few months, a country about one-third of India's size ceased to exist. The international community proceeded as if nothing happened.
When the world recognizes the plight of the Palestinians but turns a deaf ear to the Tibetans' cries, given the loss of life is many times over? Also, unlike Palestinians, they inflict violence upon themselves by indulging in self-immolation acts. It is high time that India and the rest of the world pay heed to the cries coming from the world's rooftop.
The current People's Republic of China (PRC) consists of occupied territories such as Manchuria and inner Mongolia in the North East and Tibet and East Turkistan in the West. India was very quick and eager to adopt the One-China Policy (OCP). But China has never fully acknowledged the sovereignty of India over Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own and supports Pakistan's claim over Kashmir. So, is it time that India discards the OCP?
Recently, China's transgressions across the Indo-Tibetan border have risen sharply. These skirmishes led to the Galwan valley fight, where the standoff persists. China is also very ambitiously claiming the Tawang region as part of south Tibet. When Tibet itself has not been China's historically, how valid is its claim for Tawang? It also sided with Pakistan plebiscite in Kashmir. In essence, India recognizes OCP without any reciprocation from China.
Tibet is known as the 'Water Tower of Asia' as it is the origin of major river systems that nourish ten countries. China continues to build a large number of dams across these rivers to generate hydroelectric power. So, technically by occupying Tibet, China can control the geopolitics of 10 downstream Asian countries.
For instance, China has built three dams across the river Brahmaputra whose delta serves about 130 million Indians and Bangladeshi. China is also dumping the toxins from its Lithium mines into the Tibetan rivers. A 2019 study by a group of Chinese scientists reveals the extensive microplastics contents in the rivers.
Besides having a political upper hand, China also exercises significant economic dominance over India. India is highly dependent on China for the imports of Telecom, Electronics, machinery, fertilisers, and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs). In contrast, India represents a mere 3% of China's exports. 
This trade imbalance makes India's stance against China costlier to itself than to China. When NDA came to power in 2014, the Prime Minister (PM) was very keen on developing India's relationship with its neighbours. With China, the government's expectation was on two fronts: Improved relations and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs). 
But, trusting China was a naïve move. Chinese soldiers transgressed the Indian borders even as the Chinese premier Xi Jinping was meeting Modi. India never saw that coming. Next came the economic renege. China did not honour its promise to invest USD 20 Billion in India. The FDIs, which equaled USD 505 Million in FY2015, have reduced to about USD 162 Million in FY2020. This twin- blow jolted India back to the reality that India and China are not friends.
But India is not entirely doing nothing to release itself from the claws of the Chinese dragon. India's trade deficit with China has been steadily declining. The trade balance, which was USD 63 Billion in FY2018, had gone down to USD 48.66 Billion in FY2020. A decline in imports from China accompanied India's growth in exports to China.
India was very quick and eager to adopt the One-China Policy. But China has never fully acknowledged the sovereignty of India over Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh
The government's push towards self-reliance through the Atma Nirbhar Bharat campaign and the rekindled Nationalist spirits after the Galwan valley fight played a key role. Besides this, the government is increasingly making it challenging for Chinese imports goods by putting tight Technical regulations and quality requirements. But what more can India do?
India should take a lesson or two from the European Union (EU) for taking a strong stand. India has never made a strong condemnation of China's gross Human rights violations. Despite being the major importer of Chinese goods, the EU did not refrain from speaking against China's violations in Uighur and Hong Kong.
The EU threatened to reconsider its economic partnership with China. France and Germany openly condemned China over its poor handling of the Covid crisis that led to this ongoing Pandemic. With many countries openly condemning China for Covid, the time is ripe for India to make its move and review its OCP.
To have a peaceful border, India needs to have Tibet as its buffer between China and herself. This buffer should be both geographical and economical. "India should recognize that its borders are with Tibet and not with China," says Tenzin Tsundue, a Tibetan poet and activist.
When India recognises that its neighbour is not China but Tibet, it weakens China's claims over Tawang, Aksai Chin, and minor portions alongside the five border states. India's spend on the roads along LAC increased from Rs 4,600 crore in FY 2016 to Rs 11,800 crore in FY 2021. This jump in the budget is primarily due to the need for quickly mobilising the forces should the need arise.
A significant portion of India's defence spending, which is 15.5% of its budget, is dedicated to its northern and north-eastern border. Imagine if it was peaceful? India could spend on other essential aspects, such as education and healthcare.
In essence, Tibetan liberation is dearer and more beneficial to India than it realises. It makes strategic, political, and economic sense to support the Tibetan cause and recognise its borders with Tibet. These are the exact reasons that India helped liberate Bangladesh.
As Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Being the professor of peace and Gandhian ideology, India should leave its innocent bystander approach when its neighbour is burning.
---
*Second year MBA student, Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad

Comments

Unknown said…
Good article. India should declare its support for Tibet at the earliest.
Anonymous said…
Your emotions are understandable. However, most of your views contradict with historical facts. Readers are not ignorant. It is better to write something based on facts. Otherwise you will not be taken seriously no matter how strong your feeling is.
Author said…
Thank you for the Feedback. I Would appreciate it if you would throw some light on what you found to be factually inaccurate.
Anonymous said…
Very good Article, but too little too late.
India indeed missed the golden eggs of Tibet.
Now, it must defend to the fullest as the good old days never repeats.
When the sweetest fruit was there, one did not care
When the urges comes to taste it, no teeth lefts.

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Lost to commercialisation, vanity? Ashram awaits 'second assassination' of Gandhiji

Counterview Desk  Around 130 “concerned” citizens, in a statement, have protested against the Government of India and Gujarat government decision to turn Gandhi Ashram into a ‘world-class’ tourist destination spread over 54 acres at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, which would include a Gandhi Ashram Memorial, an amphitheater, a VIP lounge, shops and a food court, stating it would compromise and trivialize the “sanctity and importance of the present-day Ashram, mainly Hriday Kunj, surrounding buildings, and the museum.”

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Govt of India has 'no moral right' to declare national day for Muslim women, Naqvi told

Counterview Desk  In what has been described as a nationwide outpouring of condemnation, following the announcement by Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Minister of Minority Affairs, declaring August 1 as ‘Muslim Women’s Rights Day’ to mark the anniversary of the Triple Talaq law, over 650 citizens have said it is nothing but "cynical optics" of using Muslim women’s rights in the face of an "unprecedented" onslaught against the rights of the Muslims in recent years.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.

Madhya Pradesh Adivasis protest externment notice to Barwani tribal rights leader

By Harsing Jamre, Nasri Bai Ningwal, Prakash Bandod*  Over 2,500 Adivasis mobilized in response to Barwani district administration’s recent move to issue a show cause notice to Valsingh Saste, a prominent Adivasi activist of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), Madhya Pradesh. For two decades, Valsingh Saste as an activist of JADS has been continuously leading struggles for the constitutional and fundamental rights of Adivasis.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Bonded labour a thing of past? Gujarat rural workers are now more aware: Ex-official

By Rajiv Shah  This is sort of rejoinder to my previous story . I was a little surprised on receiving a phone call from a former government official, who retired in 2015, Bipin Bhatt, whom I have known as one of the more socially conscious senior babus of Gujarat. A non-IAS bureaucrat, I first interacted him during my Gandhinagar days, when I used to cover Gujarat Sachivalaya for the Times of India. At that time he was Gujarat’s rural labour commissioner, a post which he occupied between 2004 and 2007. Thereafter I have been in touch with him.