Monday, October 26, 2009



Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, who discussed India-China bilateral issues with Prime Minister Wen Jiabo of China, on two occasions during his visit to Hua Hin in Thailand for the summit with ASEAN leaders, has maintained a studied ambivalence on the question of the reported plans of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh next month to declare open a hospital constructed with assistance from the Tibetan exile community in India. China has repeatedly protested against the proposed visit. The latest protest was handed over by the Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi to the Ministry of External Affairs on the eve of the Hua Hin meeting between the two leaders.

2. Bilateral issues figured in the meeting of the two Prime Ministers in the margins of the summit on October 24,2009, as well as during a dinner hosted by the Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for the participants in the summit. While the subject of the Dalai Lama's proposed visit did not appear to have figured at the bilateral meeting, it did figure during the discussions at the dinner as reportedly stated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself during his interactions with the Indian journalists, who had accompanied him. It is not clear whether the Thai dinner preceded the bilateral meeting or followed it.

3.Dr.Manmohan Singh was careful in the formulation of his remarks on the Dalai Lama visit. He said: "I explained to Premier Wen that Dalai Lama is our honoured guest and he is a religious leader.We do not allow Tibetan refugees to indulge in political activities and proof of that is that we took resolute action against some Tibetans during Olympics (torch relay) last year following reports that some Tibetan refugees might create problems."

4.The most significant part of his formulation came in reply to a question from a journalist on the Dalai Lama's proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh.Dr. Singh said HE WAS NOT AWARE OF THE DALAI LAMA'S PLANS. (Emphasis mine)

5. The proposed visit of His Holiness to Tawang in response to a local invitation from Arunachal Pradesh had been figuring in media reports for nearly two months now and the Chinese have repeatedly protested against it.India's Minister for External Affairs, Shri S.M.Krishna, had said that His Holiness was free to visit any part of India.

6. Till now, the Prime Minister himself had maintained a total silence on the issue. To have ruled out the visit would have been politically unwise for the Congress (I) in view of the recent elections in Arunachal Pradesh. Now that the elections are over and the Congress (I) has retained power, the Prime Minister no longer seems to feel the need to observe political caution on the subject lest the electoral fortunes of the Congress (I) be affected.

7.Is he preparing the ground for ending the controversy and defusing the tension with Beijing on the subject by quietly persuading His Holiness to postpone the visit for some personal reasons? (26-10-09)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )


Siva Chinnasamy said...

Very happy to see that you are active immediately after the medical exams. I believe biopsy proved that you were in the 85% of safe category.

My best wishes for a very long, healthy and fulfilled life for you. India and Indians need your services for decades to come.

Ashok said...

I'm sorry to say, but this is becoming a joke. Is India that afraid of China that it needs to take dictates on who can be present and who is not allowed on any part of its territory? Is India also a state of China? Let China complain. Whatever they have done, they have done - India gave them the security council seat, they responded by taking over Tibet illegally, attacking India, and promoting anti India terror groups within India. They have proliferated nuclear weapons and supplies to Pakistan for anti India specific purposes.

The sure way to failure is by consistently trying to please everyone. India doesn't need to please anyone anymore. If China is hinting that they are going to attack, then they are going to attack, no matter what India does in the way of pleasing/appeasing China. India needs to prepare for any attack from any quarters. Ultimately, there is a reason for having an armed forces, having weapons, developing weapons, procuring weapons and so on and so forth. War is never pretty, but if it has to happen, then India needs to make sure that it is ready to get ugly if it has to.

arjun said...

What Ashok say is true but india can not afford a war with china

arjun said...

Sir its good to see your writing again. no one can come even close to the way you lay down facts and like what siva chinnasamy said we need ur writings to bring us out of our ignorance

Brownian Motion said...

Hopefully the PM is merely following his own precedent on not commenting on Tawang or on HH The Dalai Lama visiting Tawang. We should remember that HH's visit to Tawang is a recognition by him that Tawang is a part of India. To try and persuade HH to cancel his visit at this stage is definitely not going to look good for India. It will be v. clear that India has once again succumbed to Chinese pressure at the cost of her own long term interests. Allowing the visit is not going to start a war as some cowards and "worst case" thinkers advocate. The less India plays her cards, the less they will be available for her.