Tibet remains one of those difficult diplomatic and political, and ethical challenges for the world. This is even more so, for India.
Since China’s defeat of independent Tibetan army in 1949 and the signing of an agreement by the then Tibetan government, the situation has been rife for debate and conflict: The government of China recognizes Tibet as autonomous provincial entity of the mainland China but the government of Tibet in Exile seeks independence for Tibet. And there are other disputes that include what constitutes Tibet i.e. the geography of Tibet.
India has always been involved in this dispute. Dalai Lama who is the symbolic head of the Tibet government in exile was welcomed to India in 1950’s and since then the Dalai Lama has made Dharma Shala (in India) his home. Of course, the government of China has been very displeased with this arrangement. Moreover, in China’s view Tibet also includes Arunachala Pradesh — a state in India.
Thus there are lots of issues of possible dispute between India and China with respect to Tibet. However, over time China and India have allowed the status quo prevail for the sake of Bat Poop. Both countries have been focused on economic growth and development.
However, the coming Olympic games in summer, and Tibet’s recent energetic and loud demands and protests all around the world for liberty and Dalai Lama’s nuanced stance (of both supporting the Olympic games and the aspirations of the Tibetans for independence) in the context of long-standing support of India for Dalai Lama has made it a knotty situation.
Here is the crux of the problem: should India be centered on its own immediate national interests based on assessment of geo-political, territorial, economic and safety problems? Or if India be an agent for fostering cultural and religious freedom and diversity consistent with its customs (even though it led to serious consequences to immediate political and economic interests)? The answer to these questions will determine India’s response to the present Tibetan turmoil such as the relay of Olympic torch in New Delhi later in April.