By Manju Gupta
India, Tibet and China by Ajay B. Agrawal, N.A. Books International, 211pp, Rs 295.00
Written by businessman-author who was born in Kalimpong and who often interacted with Tibetan merchants, this book deals with the foreign policy pursued by India'sfirst Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru over China and Tibet.
Tibet was a free nation till 1950 as a result of the British policy. In a fast-changing world, they had kept China and Russia away from interfering in the affairs of Tibet. In 1949-50, Peking Radio announced threateningly, ?Liberate we will; come what may,? when referring to Tibet and within a year China attacked Tibet and achieved what they called ?liberation of Tibet?. Tibet lost its independence.
On entering Tibet, the Chinese promptly took to bringing it under its firm control. They did not respect the 17-point agreement they had entered into with Tibet in 1951. In 1955-56 the Chinese started reforms in eastern Tibet, which the Tibetans naturally resisted. Against the might of the Chinese, for how long could Tibet exist? The Tibetans naturally lost and then began their persecution. The people were made to suffer untold miseries and cruelty.
Going backwards into time, we find that it was Pandit Nehru who in December 1949 wrote wrote to the state Chief Ministers thus: ?Our policy has been rather vague about Tibet. It has been an inheritance from the British days. We have recognised the autonomy of Tibet and some kind of vague suzerainty of China. Strictly speaking, in law, we cannot deny that suzerainty. We would like Tibet to be autonomous and have direct dealings with us and we shall press for this.?
Meanwhile the Chinese were becoming more and more aggressive in their approach towards Tibet. Prof. N.G.Ranga, Minoo Masani, and Dr S.P. Mookerjee tried to warn Nehru of China'sevil designs, but all Nehru said was, ?We have sent another request asking them (China) to be peaceful.? Dr S.P. Mookerjee went to the extent of saying, ?It is a fact that the boundary between India and Tibet is yet to be definitely defined?China will do everything necessary to claim Indian territory as per its maps.? And how prophetic these words proved. Twelve years later, Dr Mookerjee was not alive but China attacked India and a weak India was badly defeated in the 1962 war.
The Chinese had started encroachments in 1954 but Nehru informed the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1959 only. Possibly Nehru hoped to tame a wild China with his gestures of goodwill and cooperation. But that did not have the desired effect on the Chinese. ?It did not deceive India. Nehru chose to be deceived,? says the author.
According to the author, against Chinese aggression, Nehru ?took the course of least resistance? by accepting China'ssovereignty over Tibet without fuss while ?making efforts to assure the world of China'speaceful intentions?. As the conflict with China developed, Nehru concentrated more on what was happening on Chinese borders with Korea rather than bothering about developments on Sino-Indian border. He did not prepare the country to face the Chinese ?but kept on assuring that China was a friend and that India was well prepared to face the Chinese challenge.? Taken together, it proved disastrous. ?When war with China took place, India did not have anything and anybody to fall back upon.?
The spiritual head of Tibet, the Dalai Lama and many Tibetans were forced to leave their land. One is tempted to ask here, ?Why go into history of what had happened fifth-three years ago?? The reply would be that what happened then should not be repeated again and the public has to be educated on the reality of Tibet and try to restore Tibet'sstatus as an ?autonomous region? while helping the displaced Tibetans in India to return to their homeland.
(N.A. International, 702-A Shree Yamuna, Borsa Pada Road, Kandivili, Mumbai-400090.)