(TibetanReview.net, Mar07, 2018) – The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has rescheduled, relocated, and possibly downgraded a major event meant to express gratitude to the government and people of India for 60 years of help and hospitality after New Delhi expressed fears that it may deteriorate its already tense relations with China. Earlier, on Feb 26, India’s top bureaucrat, Cabinet Secretary Mr PK Sinha, had notified the country’s “senior leaders” and “government functionaries” both at the centre and in the states to avoid events hosted by the exile Tibetan administration to mark the milestone.
CTA had planned to hold a high-profile ‘Thank You India’ event at the Thyagaraja Sports Complex on Apr 1 and an inter-faith prayer meeting at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat scheduled on Mar 31. Senior BJP leader LK Advani and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh were stated to be the intended chief guests at the ‘Thank You India’ event. But Dr Singh’s office said he had declined the invitation, while sources close to Advani said he had received a letter but had not expressed his consent, reported the Hindustan Times Mar 6.
“We will now have the event in Dharamshala instead of Delhi. We will also have it on Mar 31 instead of Apr 1,” the Hindustan Times report quoted Mr Ngodup Dhongchung, representative at the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, as saying.
“The Thyagaraj stadium event has been shifted to Dharamsala now. And the inter-faith prayer at Rajghat has been cancelled for now,” The Indian Express Mar 6 quoted Mr Sonam Dagpo, International Relations Secretary of the CTA, as saying.
“Some people may be disappointed. But we are guests of India. Indian people have been very generous to us. We understand the compulsions,” he has added.
Also, the year-long events are seen as being expected to be “low key affairs”.
The development comes days after it was reported that India’s Foreign Secretary Mr Vijay Gokhale had sent a note on Feb 22 to the Cabinet Secretary, who in turn directed all ministries and departments of the Government of India as well as state governments not to accept any invitation or to participate in the proposed events.
The note from Gokhale, a former Indian Ambassador to Beijing, was stated to have come just ahead of his trip to Beijing.
Alka Acharya, Professor of Chinese Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, sees the development as part of India’s use of the so-called ‘Tibet card’ with China over the past few years. “What is actually happening now is a course-correction of sorts, or reverting to the older position that Tibetan political activities will not be encouraged and the government will distance itself from any such activity,” she was quoted as saying.
Acharya believes that India-China relation had been undergoing ‘tremendous stress’ and the government was seeking to ‘reset ties’, as Gokhale announced during a recent visit to Beijing.