Meeting Between Dalai Lama, RSS Chief Reflects India's 'Evolving Approach' on Tibet, Reckons Expert

© Photo : Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat pays a courtesy call on His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, 20 December 2021
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Mohan Bhagwat pays a courtesy call on His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, 20 December 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.12.2021
China describes the highest Tibetan spiritual leader – the Dalai Lama – as a “dangerous splittist” and has asked foreign governments to not provide a platform for his “separatist activities”. Like most of the global community, India adheres to the One-China policy and respects Beijing’s sovereignty over the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
The first-ever meeting between the Dalai Lama and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat is “very significant” and is indicative of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's “evolving approach” on the question of Tibet, an Indian expert told Sputnik on Tuesday.

“The meeting reflects the growing sentiment in favour of the Tibetan movement in India’s ruling dispensation. We all know the amount of influence that the RSS wields over the government”, stated Vijay Kranti, an Indian strategic analyst and chairman of the Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement (CHASE).

The Dalai Lama as well as the RSS have refused to reveal the exact details of their meeting.
Senior RSS dignitary Indresh Kumar, who was also present at the meeting, however, told reporters that the Tibetan religious leader lauded India’s model of “religious harmony” during the interaction.
A spokesperson from the Dalai Lama’s office told Sputnik that there was no China-centric discussion in the meeting.

“The discussions were more about religious harmony and world peace”, he said.

The Hindu nationalist RSS is the ideological parent of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Its chief Mohan Bhagwat has often been described as being among the three most powerful men in India, a list that also includes Prime Minister Modi and the federal Home Minister Amit Shah.
The RSS claims that it has a presence in 50,000 Indian villages and towns. As per unofficial estimates, the RSS has a volunteer base of nearly five million. Even the Indian prime minister was an RSS volunteer in the past.
Analyst Vijay Kranti notes that even Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Shah are yet to meet the Dalai Lama.
Kranti further reckoned that although the official Indian line very much favoured adherence to the “One-China policy”, recent statements by senior BJP members as well as Monday’s meeting between Bhagwat and the Dalai Lama clearly indicate that the Indian government is “re-thinking its official stand” in the wake of the ongoing Ladakh border standoff.
According to the One-China policy, foreign governments must recognise only the Chinese sovereign state (Mainland China). While it is often used in the context of Taiwan, Beijing also advocates adherence to the policy to rebuff claims challenging its sovereignty over Hong Kong and the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
An Indian girl poses for photographs with an Indian flag at the Indo China border in Bumla at an altitude of 15,700 feet (4,700 meters) above sea level in Arunachal Pradesh, India, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.11.2021
Indian State Chief: Arunachal Pradesh Doesn’t Share 'Direct Border' With China But Does With Tibet
Last week, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh stated that Uttarakhand state shares a border with “Tibet” and Nepal, as he refused to recognise China as being the direct neighbour.
Similarly, BJP politician Pema Khandu, currently the state chief of Arunachal Pradesh, said last month that his state shared a border with Tibet and not China.

“We have seen that Modi doesn’t make any noise about his opposition to China, but such meetings indicate otherwise”, states Kranti.

The Indian opposition has often been critical of the prime minister for not calling out China by name in his speeches on national security.
The Indian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly blamed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for trying to “unilaterally” alter the status quo of the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) border between the two Asian powerhouses.

A Signal to Everyone in the Indian Government

The analyst claims that, after the meeting, the RSS has sent a signal to everyone in the Indian government that the “decades-old” notion of respecting China’s stand on the question of Tibet must be “challenged”.

“The bureaucratic norms of respecting China’s sovereignty over Tibet are baseless and do not make sense against Beijing’s actions in Ladakh”, states Kranti.

He also recounts that Bhagwat blasted China’s “expansionist” approach during a significant speech in October last year.
An Indian army convoy moves on the Srinagar- Ladakh highway at Gagangeer, northeast of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.01.2021
India Ready to Meet Any Challenges on China Border, Says Ladakh Row 'Profoundly Disturbed' Trust
Kranti underlines that respected RSS ideologues were critical of the Indian government back in the 1950s for professing New Delhi’s commitment to the One-China policy.
Vinayak Savarkar, an RSS ideologue venerated in BJP circles, blasted then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for not “protesting” against Beijing’s “invasion” of Tibet in the 1950s.
In 1959, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled to India after Beijing cracked down on a failed uprising by the Tibetan population. Although the Tibetans were granted refuge by Prime Minister Nehru, Delhi has always committed itself to the One-China policy.
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