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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.

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