The declaration and recognition of Tibet as an independent nation is the most pressing need before the international community. It is a vast expanse of more than twelve lakh square kilometers and is known as the Roof of the World. Several rivers originate here and it is the lifeline of more than a billion people of Asia. It is a reserve of rich flora and fauna and precious metals like gold, silver, copper and lithium.
Tibet was illegally occupied by China in 1949 and India, the immediate neighbour, maintained silence and so did other nations of the world. The Chinese presumption that Tibet was its tributary state in the past does not hold ground in modern times because recognizing such claims and counter claims would alter the map of the world beyond recognition. The 14th Dalai Lama, the current religious and political leader of Tibet, has taken refuge in India wherefrom he runs his provisional government in exile.
It is really amazing as to why the western world, including Britain which had a thorough knowledge of the whole area, kept a studied silence over the whole issue. China has fast industrialized itself and is in a hurry to become the global hegemon replacing America. Such a desire needs unlimited resources and abundant power supply. Consequently, China has dammed its rivers to its fullest potential.
Hydropower is cheap as well as green. China is building dams on the rivers originating in this area which will bring hunger and deprivation to the people of Tibet as well as those who live in the plains below.The ruthless mining by China in the Tibetan plateau has brought havoc on its inhabitants as well as its environment. The silence of Savannas is shocking which has been brought about by mindless mining in the region by China. Yak is the most sought after animal in Tibet and the lifeline of the people as it gives them milk, butter and cheese. However, the Chinese have brutally slaughtered this useful animal for meat with the intent of cutting their lifeline and forcing the Tibetan nomads to move out from their ancestral land and thereby vacate the area for mining.
The strategic importance of Tibet cannot be overstated for India as well as the whole world. It is a buffer state between India and China. Also, whoever controls Tibet would have an edge over its opponent. India, therefore, is at a strategic disadvantage. The Indo China border is very long and hostile and maintaining constant vigil round the year is really costly and painful. It is an unwarranted drain on an already fragile Indian economy in the wake of COVID.
A full-fledged war in the Himalyan region will be extremely hazardous for the fragile climate of the Himalayas and its delicate ecosystem having far reaching consequences for the whole of Asia. America and other western powers cannot afford to be oblivious of this. It was really a blunder on their part that they supported the One China Policy. The policy of appeasement towards China has failed miserably. Its greed is insatiable and it has a fat ego. The containment of such a belligerent power is the responsibility which history has bestowed upon them as well as on us.
America has decided to take up the cause of Tibet and has declared that the successor of the Dalai Lama should be chosen as per Tibetan traditions without any interference from China which has declared that the Dalai Lama should be chosen with its consent. It is high time that the Western Powers should recognize Tibet as an independent and sovereign nation. India should also recognize Tibet as such. It is necessary to save the life, culture and dignity of the Tibetans. It is also important strategically as it would check Chinese advance towards the Indian border which is bound to lead to a fierce war which would be highly detrimental to the global peace.
The restoration of Tibetan Plateau to the Tibetans would revive the wildlife and ecosystem. It would stop the mining of precious metals as Tibetans do not dig ground to mine anything as per their traditions. Their divine spirits reside in mountains as per their belief and it has saved the mountains for thousands of years. Religion sometimes is a great savior of nature.
Therefore, granting recognition to Tibet as a sovereign state would diplomatically put China on backfoot. The Chinese belligerence would be jolted and it would be a clear message that the world is no longer ready to support and tolerate One China Policy. It is in the larger interest of the world to save itself from a formidable Indo China war which would inevitably take place, if the Tibetan issue is not resolved.
For India, it is the most opportune time to grant recognition to Tibet as a sovereign state. If a war with China is inevitable, let it be in the name of Tibet. The world support would follow like anything and destiny will bestow upon us the glory of setting Tibet free as an independent nation. It would be another feather in the cap of modern Indian history after Bangladesh. Seldom destiny offers such an opportunity on a silver platter. India should seize it with both hands.
The author is the Registrar of Vinoba Bhave University in Hazaribag. The views expressed by the author are his own