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PM Modi sends greetings to the Dalai Lama on his 89th birthday

This is the fourth year in a row the prime minister went public about his greetings to the Tibetan Buddhist monk on his birthday. He started doing it in 2021, apparently to send a message to Beijing in the wake of China’s aggressive moves along its Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India.
Last Updated : 07 July 2024, 01:18 IST

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday sent greetings to the 14th Dalai Lama on occasion of the 89th birthday of the monk and prayed for his long life, disregarding Beijing’s objection to such greetings to the icon of the global campaign against the occupation of Tibet by China.

 The Dalai Lama has been living in exile in India since 1959. He is currently in the United States recuperating after knee surgery.

"Sent my greetings to His Holiness @DalaiLama on the occasion of his 89th birthday. Pray for his quick recovery after knee surgery, good health, and long life", the prime minister wrote on X.

This is the fourth year in a row the prime minister went public about his greetings to the Tibetan Buddhist monk on his birthday. He started doing it in 2021, apparently to send a message to Beijing in the wake of China’s aggressive moves along its Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India.

The military stand-off along the LAC brought down the relations between India and China to a new low.

"Beijing had strongly reacted after Modi had called and greeted the Dalai Lama last year. The Indian side should fully recognise the anti-China separatist nature of the 14th Dalai Lama. It should abide by its commitment to China, speak and act prudently, and stop using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China’s internal affairs", a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Government had told journalists in Beijing.

The Dalai Lama has been living in exile in India following his 1959 escape from Tibet, which had been occupied by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in 1950-51.

The monk, a staunch advocate for non-violence and freedom, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. He has been arguing for “genuine autonomy” – not independence from the Chinese Government’s rule – for Tibet. Beijing, however, still calls him a “separatist” and accuses him of running a campaign to split China.

His meeting with the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in August 2010 or his visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan on an invitation from then President Pranab Mukherjee in December 2016 had triggered strong protests from China. So did New Delhi’s decisions in 2009 and 2017 to allow him to visit Arunachal Pradesh, where China claims nearly 90,000 sq. km of Indian territory to be its own.

Modi, however, did not have any public contact or engagement with the Dalai Lama till 2021, ostensibly to avoid hurting the sensitivity of China. He did not change the policy of maintaining distance from the Dalai Lama and refrained from publicly wishing the octogenarian on his birthday on July 6, 2020, even though New Delhi’s relations with Beijing nosedived after the June 15, 2020 clash between the Indian Army and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army along the LAC in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

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Published 07 July 2024, 01:18 IST

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