India’s all-party Parliamentary Forum for Tibet decided to urge the government to bestow the Bharat Ratna on the Dalai Lama and called for a joint session of parliament to address him. He also proposed the adoption of a policy inspired by the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of the United States.
The forum, which has more than 20 MPs, including from the BJP, has decided to urge all MPs to pay special attention to discussing and addressing the issues of Tibetans living in different parts of the country, in consultation with local authorities.
After its revival last year, the forum held its first meeting and some of its deputies attended a dinner hosted by the Tibetan Parliament in Exile last December. In an unusual move, the Chinese Embassy in Delhi had written to them, expressing concern and asking them to “refrain from providing support to the independent Tibetan forces”.
Asked about this, Sujeet Kumar, BJD MP in Rajya Sabha who is the organizer of the forum, said: “Let them react… The Chinese Embassy has no locus standi to oppose, because we are deputies in a democratic country. We have every right to pass resolutions and the Chinese Embassy does not have to tell us what to do.
Speaking to The Indian Express, he said: “If we passed a resolution to make Tibet an independent country, that would have been a bit much because India has a one China policy. What we are asking is to settle the problems concerning the Tibetans who live here. We are asking for the protection of the ecology (of Tibet) because it is important for India downstream.
At a forum meeting earlier this month, Kumar voiced his objection to “the intervention of the Chinese communist regime in the reincarnation of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama”, stating that only the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people have the right to decide about it.
According to the minutes of the meeting, top BJP leader and former deputy chief minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, proposed a bill modeled on the US Tibetan Policy and Support Act. He also suggested that the Dalai Lama be invited to address a joint session of parliament. The forum will ask Lok Sabha Chairman Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman Jagdeep Dhankhar to invite the Dalai Lama to address MPs at Central Hall.
Another BJP MP, Tapir Gao from Arunachal Pradesh, proposed “a large gathering of pro-Tibet forum members which will raise awareness and draw attention to the Tibet issue.”
Other BJP MPs present at the meeting included Rajendra Agrawal, Ashok Bajpai, Lehar Singh Siroya and Vinay Dinu Tendulkar.
Sikkim Democratic Front MP Rajya Sabha Hishey Lachungpa proposed a joint petition of MPs asking for Bharat Ratna for the Dalai Lama. Accordingly, the forum decided to prepare a joint petition in this regard.
The forum members also decided to participate in the Tibetan Democracy Day on September 2 and the session of the Tibetan Parliament from September 7 to 16.
Kumar has also prepared a private member’s bill calling for a Tibet Policy Act, which calls on the government to appoint a special coordinator within the Ministry of External Affairs for Tibet-related issues, to promote “a dialogue of between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and his democratically elected representatives or leaders of the Tibetan community, among others”.
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The special coordinator, according to the bill, should establish international diplomatic coalitions to oppose any initiative by the Chinese government to “select, educate and venerate Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders in a manner inconsistent with Tibetan Buddhism in which the succession or identification of Tibetan Buddhist Lamas, including the Dalai Lama, should occur without interference, in a manner consistent with the beliefs of Tibetan Buddhists.
He also called on the government to allocate a fund – not less than 3 million rupees – in the Union budget to help the democratic activities of Tibetan refugees in India.