Ladakh border faceoff cited to urge India’s top civilian honour for Dalai Lama

His Holiness the Dalai Lama. (Photo courtesy: RM)

(, Jul02’20) – A strong section within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s mentor Sangh Parivar wants the government of India to send out a strong message to China by conferring India’s highest civilian award – the Bharat Ratna – on the Dalai Lama, reported Jul 1. However, another faction is said to be urging caution, given the extent of China’s hostility towards the 1989 Nobel Peace laureate who is the face of the peaceful Tibetan campaign for reaching a negotiated settlement on the issue of occupied Tibet.

The report said the proposal was being vetted at the highest echelons of the government. It said a section within the officialdom in New Delhi was in favour of giving it a thought, particularly in view of China’s recent aggression along the disputed boundary with India.

Others, however, advised caution as such a move by India would trigger a strong response from China, the report cited sources in New Delhi as saying.

Having spent most of his life as a guest of India, the world’s most famous Buddhist leader often describes himself as a son of India.

“We must honour him (Dalai Lama) with Bharat Ratna,” Pankaj Goyal, the general secretary of the Bharat Tibbat Sahyog Manch (BTSM), a Tibet campaign group floated by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) (the Sangh Parivar), was quoted as saying.

“I feel more and more that His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama should be given the Bharat Ratna,” Nirupama Rao, former Indian Foreign Secretary, was stated to have posted on Twitter, just days after the Indian Army and Chinese PLA soldiers had a clash at Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

“He (Dalai Lama) deserves it for his service to humanity, his compassion, courage, and his abiding faith in democracy and fundamental freedoms, all values that our Republic upholds,” Rao, who is also a former Indian envoy to China, had tweeted.

Others who had previously called for the honour for the Dalai Lama included Shanta Kumar, a senior BJP leader and former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh (Apr 2019), as well as historian Ramachandra Guha, former West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.


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