Dharamshala: A Conference on “Tibet: A Global Common or a Bone of Contention” organised by the Tibet Policy Institute, Central Tibetan Administration was held today in Dharamshala.
The auspicious morning session of the conference, blessed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, began with the first ever signing of Memorandum of Understanding followed by the welcome address delivered by Mr. Thubten Samphel, Director of Tibet Policy Institute.
President of Central Tibetan Administration, Dr. Lobsang Sangay in his inaugural address said, “We are at an age when things are changing rapidly, as a result of which the general discourse of the world is also changing. The whole world is at crossroads.”
Speaking on the securitization of Tibet he said, “There are surveillance cameras everywhere in Tibet. China has set up check posts every thirty kilometers in Tibet to restrict movement. They have water buckets and fire extinguishers almost everywhere. They have also issued advanced identity cards that track the movements of the holder. They are also hiring Tibetans as spies and informers to spy on their neighbours, backed by the Chinese policy of ‘if you want happiness then give me security’”.
President Sangay also touched on topics pertaining to the environmental significance of Tibet and Buddhism as a soft power.
“The world pays homage to China and not India, as the patron of Buddhism. Tibetans and Indians together must work together to change that,” he added.
“The Tibet issue is not only an issue of six million Tibetans around the world but also an issue for countries with majority Buddhist population,” he concluded.
The inaugural address delivered by President Sangay was followed by the key-note address delivered by Professor Ramu Manivannan, Head of the Department of Politics and Public administration, University of Madras, Chennai.
“I believe this to be my life-long karma to be invoking the call of justice, freedom and the quest for Tibet,” he began.
He stated that Tibet has always been an independent country, and gave the Simla accord as an example. He said that if Tibet was not an independent country then it would not have been a part of the signing.
He asserted that the greatest threats that Tibet faces is the demographic threat, construction at the expense of religious institutions, the securitization restricting freedom of expression and movement and the environmental degradation through exploitation of Tibet’s natural resources.
“Two-third of Tibet is not even in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Whenever we mention or define Tibet, we must do so in its entirety,” he added.
“It is not sufficient enough to have sympathy for Tibet. Indian scholars should have a proper righteous understanding and look at the political and strategic components of Tibet. Tibet is the truth and we must fight for the truth,” he concluded.
Commodore R.S. Vasan, Director of Chennai Center for China Studies, research scholars, think tanks, professors and China experts were also present at the conference.
The conference entailed a day long programme which included plenary discussion on five different topics which are – Strategic Dimension of China, Xi’s Tibet Policy, Environment and Health, Water Wars and Culture and Soft power. The discussions in each session are followed by a question and answer session cum interactions with the participants of the conference.