India’s contribution

PERHAPS it is in India that opposed viewpoints on the subject of China’s control over Tibet will find the right way to proceed as the torch makes its way through thousands of security personnel stationed to protect an Olympic flame that is quickly losing its fire.

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Published: Fri 18 Apr 2008, 9:14 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:54 PM

In addition to hosting Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama’s government in exile, India is also home to the largest Tibetan community outside its homeland. Yet that does not prevent New Delhi from deciding not to indulge in the ongoing debate, prompted by the Games’ awkward timing, regarding the extent of China’s influence over Tibet.

That is so because New Delhi is understandably protective of its strengthening communication with China, an exercise with the potential to change not only South Asia’s calculus, but also of regions far beyond. Not letting one affect the other is a balancing mandated by realpolitik requirements that democracies must carry to make strides in the globalisation era. In it also lies the only solution to the crisis sparked by worldwide protests demanding freedom for Tibet.

Surely China’s government is not going to cave in to pockets of protests on the flame’s trail, but it must concede that an important point has been made. Which is why protesters should also stop associating the Games with the troubled mountainous territory and wait till time for political action is at hand. Governments, too, must give China the breathing space it needs to go ahead with the Games that are being needlessly caught in the crossfire.

China must then display the political maturity required of a rising superpower that realises the intricacies of progress in the modern era, as well as the pitfalls that must be avoided whatever the cost. A disgruntled population bent upon agitating against imposition from above that has not been proved fair is the last thing conducive to economic and social growth. Just as in its interaction with its neighbours, China should at least indulge in diplomatic engagement so all concerned can get a better understanding of how things stand, and what are the alternatives. There could hardly be a better broker than India.

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