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CWA # 11, 18 May 2018

India External
Why is Free Tibet important for India

  Jamyang Dolma

India and China are increasingly facing off each other because Tibet is no longer a “buffer zone” between them, that pre-1949 there was hardly even a policeman on the border. Highlighting the importance of the strategic Himalayan region for India there was never incursion in the ’40s and ’30s because India and China were never next to each other. Tibet always served as the buffer zone.

As a Tibetan born and raised in India I see how vital Tibet is for the long-term objective of India’s security. Without settling the Tibet issue, India and China will perpetually be bolted into a weapons contest, as we say in our motto “Tibet’s Independence is India’s security”. But in India, there is almost no awareness about Tibet, reading material have no mention of Tibet.

 Tibet and India’s National Interest

As I have read about why free Tibet is important for India, I came across so many questions and ideas. The first question in my mind was,  Is Tibet vital to India’s national interest? Naturally, it became important to understand the reasons as to why the Tibetan issue is important in safeguarding India’s national interests. Reasons are as given below:

Brahmaputra or Yarlung-Tsangpo as it is called in Tibet is one of the major rivers of Asia. It then flows southwest through the Assam Valley and enters Bangladesh before entering into the Bay of Bengal. It has huge potential for hydro-electricity and its use for irrigation feeds thousands of people.

Its use for hydropower could generate huge amounts of electric power, helping in saving millions of tons of coal all the while diminishing the impact of climate change and also providing clean energy to the area.

Strategically it isn’t of much use as of now, but during floods, India has more to lose than China. China started building a dam on the river which could alter its direction and cause widespread flooding. Apart from hydroelectricity, it can also be used as a means of transportation and navigation.

TIBET CREATES A BUFFER BETWEEN CHINA AND INDIA

Tibet creates a buffer between China and India. And when the plateau looms over India it’s a terrible threat. If Tibet no longer belongs to China, at least China cannot install garrison there, and if China and India were to have conflicts, it would be difficult for China to transfer armies when Tibet is inaccessible.

India and China are increasingly facing off each other because Tibet is no longer a “buffer zone” between them, that pre-1949 there was hardly even a policeman on the border. Highlighting the importance of the strategic Himalayan region for India, there was never incursion in the ’40s and ’30s because India and China were never next to each other. Tibet always served as the buffer zone.

Tibet is very much linked to India’s security. The 4,000, to 5,000 kilometres of the border that we have with China has always been the threat, so hence the border dispute.

Now, the military build-up that is going on and the billions of dollars India has spent on its border security, which could rather be spent on other humanitarian or educational projects. So India’s security is very much linked to the Tibet issue.

TIBET IS A LARGE RESERVOIR OF RESOURCES

Tibet is a large reservoir of resources like copper. Most of them the Chinese government did not exploit, for fearing the exploiting actions would cause dissent. But if Tibet is “freed”, the resources can be sold to the world market, and since Tibet has no adequate army or diplomat or economical world influence, Tibet won’t be able to keep the price. And guess who can get most of them?

Gigantic speculation has been made to manufacture a system of present-day roadways all finished Tibet. China can likewise gloat about having laid the most noteworthy railroad track on the planet that associates Lhasa with Beijing. As indicated by official Chinese measurements, the level of yearly appropriations to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in the late 1980s was around 1 billion yuan or $270 million.

Tibet is now said to hold as much as 40 million tons of copper one-third of China's total, 40 million tons of lead and zinc, and more than a billion tons of high-grade iron. Among the Tibet discoveries is China’s first substantial rich iron supply.
 
Jamyang Dolma is currently pursuing Masters in International Studies in Christ (deemed to be University) 

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