(TibetanReview.net, Jul07’22) – Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India has on Jul 6 called Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to greet him on his birthday. And he has later announced it in a tweet, saying: “Conveyed 87th birthday greetings to His Holiness the @DalaiLama over phone earlier today. We pray for his long life and good health.”
Given the state Sino-India relations today, which is the worst in several decades especially on account of the continuing Ladakh border standoff, Indian media reports saw this as a message to China.
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But Modi was not the only world leader to greet the Dalai Lama on his birthday. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken also issued a statement on the occasion, expressing admiration for his ongoing commitment to non-violence to resolve the grievances of the Tibetan community and gratitude for his dedication and service to humanity.
Blinken has also lauded the Dalai Lama for bringing “light to his fellow Tibetans and so many around the world by promoting peace, encouraging inter-faith harmony, and advocating for the preservation of Tibetan language and culture.”
And he has promised continued US “support (for) His Holiness’s and the Tibetan community’s efforts to preserve Tibet’s distinct linguistic, religious, and cultural traditions, including the ability to freely choose their religious leaders.”
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On Modi’s offering of greetings to the Dalai Lama, the Indianesxpress.com Jul 7 noted that the phone calls to the Tibetan spiritual leader and the public announcements had diplomatic significance given that Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a “splittist”. This referred to the fact that Modi had greeted the Dalai Lama similarly on the latter’s 86th birthday last year.
The report noted that the fact that Beijing had not bothered about Indian “sensitivities” — on the India-China border, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, status of Jammu and Kashmir — had led New Delhi to recalibrate its position. It signaled that India will not hesitate to subtly dial up the rhetoric.
Likewise, news18.com Jul 7 felt that the public attendance at the birthday celebrations in Dharamsala and Delhi and PM Modi’s wishes showed a visible change in posturing from the Indian side in India-China relations, especially after the Galwan Valley incident in the night of Jun 15-16, 2020.
The Dharamsala event was attended virtually by Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Mr Jai Ram Thakur and personally on his behalf by the state’s forest minister Mr Rakesh Pathania. And the Delhi event was attended by two union ministers, namely, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Ms Meenakshi Lekhi and Minister of State in the Ministry of Law and Justice Mr SP Baghel, according to the report.
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Other Indian leaders who greeted the Dalai Lama included the Union Law Minister Mr Kiren Rijiju, Delhi Chief Minister Mr Arvind Kejriwal, and Odisha Chief Minister Mr Naveen Patnaik, reported timesnownews.com Jul 6.
In Sikkim, Mr Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) remarked that the Dalai Lama was expected to visit Sikkim this year to bless the Sikkim citizens if the situation permits. He attended the birthday celebrations, accompanied by his cabinet colleagues, at Shera Monastery in Chandmari, reported the northeasttoday.in Jul 6.
Other serving Indian leaders who posted online greetings were seen to include Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Mr Pema Khandu, Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways Mr Nitin Gadkari, and Union I&B Minister Mr Anurag Thakur.