History has it that apart from the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru’s forward policy to demarcate the Indian border with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, the decision to provide shelter to 14th Dalai Lama after he crossed over on March 31, 1959 was one of the principal reasons behind the 1962 border skirmishes across the 3, 488 kilometer Himalayan boundary. Beijing’s assumption was that the presence of high lamas in the country would offer a certain leverage to India in the Tibetan plateau and that the high Buddhist priests could instigate a rebellion to destabilize an atheist China.
Despite Nehru advocating dialogue with China as the only way out to sort out the Tibet issue (as the 14th Dalai Lama confirmed in his interview with HT this week), the Chinese viewed each Indian move with suspicion and even went on to call the 14th Dalai Lama a terrorist out to split Communist China. Over the past decades, the Chinese have blamed Indians for training Tibetan youth for rebellion and insisted that New Delhi recognize “One China” policy in virtually every bilateral document. India, on the other hand, has insisted time and again that the 14th Dalai Lama is an honoured religious guest and is kept far away from Tibetan politics.
Now, with the 14th Dalai Lama making it clear that he had nothing to do with his reincarnation, the Chinese mistrust of decades towards India has turned out to be misplaced. The Tibetan movement itself is splintered with rival Buddhist factions and Beijing acquiring an iron grip over the roof of the world. China has already initiated the process of identifying the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama by making it clear as early as 2015 that it was not his decision to cease the reincarnation just as it was not his decision to become the temporal and spiritual head of Tibet. The religious leader in India, however, wants to go through a process of first asking Tibetan people living outside China to ratify the institution of Dalai Lama itself and then initiate the dialogue to decide on his successor. The 14th Dalai Lama has made it clear that he will neither emanate nor appoint ( and then tutor) his successor .