Dalai Lama's spiritual event in Delhi soon after Xi Jinping's visit

Dalai Lama's spiritual event in Delhi soon after Xi Jinping's visit

Tibetan leader Dalai Lama’s plan to hold a spiritual conclave in Delhi in the third week of this month put Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Government in a fix as it is preparing to host Chinese President Xi Jinping in the national capital around the same time.


The Government has now quietly advised Dalai Lama’s office to reschedule the conclave – ostensibly in view of Beijing’s sensitivity about the Tibetan leader, who has been living in exile in India since 1959.

Though the conclave was originally scheduled to be held on September 18 and 19, the Government has suggested that it should be postponed to September 20 and 21, sources told Deccan Herald. 

Xi is likely to visit New Delhi from September 17 to 19 next for his maiden visit to India after taking over as President of China in November 2012. Dalai Lama has invited religious leaders like Art of Living Guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq, Archbishop of Bombay Cardinal Oswald Gracius, Rabbi Ezekiel Isaac Malekar of Delhi and several others to attend the conclave, which is intended to deliberate on spiritual ways to deal with social problems, like communal violence, poverty, environmental degradation, women empowerment, gender violence and child abuse, his office stated on Friday. 

According to the sources in New Delhi, some in the Government were initially in favour of requesting Dalai Lama either to postpone the conclave by a few weeks or to cancel it. The others, however, argued that if he held the event soon after Xi’s departure, it would rather be consistent not only with Modi Government’s tough approach on foreign policy issues, but also with New Delhi's position that he being "a religious leader and an honoured guest of India" is free to hold any spiritual event anywhere in the country.

New Delhi has already given its nod to the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (TGIE) based at Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Dalai Lama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The TGIE is planning to hold a congregation of Nobel Peace laureates from around the world at Dharamshala soon to mark the occasion.  

China is already peeved over Modi’s invitation to Lobsang Sangay, Dalai Lama’s political heir and head of the TGIE, to the swearing-in ceremony of the new BJP-led NDA Government. Sangay did attend the ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on May 26, fuelling speculation about Modi Government’s subtle move towards according a certain degree of recognition to the TGIE. 

Beijing in November 2011 postponed a visit of the then State Councilor of China, Dai Bingguo, to New Delhi, as Dalai Lama was also attending a Global Buddhist Convention in the capital city around the same time when the top Chinese diplomat was scheduled to arrive. 

Dai was the Special Representative of the Chinese Government for talks with India to resolve the boundary dispute. He was scheduled to visit New Delhi to meet his counterpart and the then National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon for the 15th round of talks between the two Special Representatives on the issue of boundary dispute.

But as India turned down China’s request to prevent Dalai Lama from attending the convention, Dai postponed his visit to New Delhi and his meeting with Menon was delayed by more than six weeks. Beijing accuses Dalai Lama of leading a secessionist movement to challenge China’s sovereignty over Tibet.

New Delhi, however, maintains that Dalai Lama, who is a much-revered spiritual leader, is an “honoured guest” of India and is free to go anywhere in the country and hold or attend any event without getting involved in any political activity. 

China is understood to be keen to raise the issue of TGIE during Xi’s visit to India and ask New Delhi to close it down. The Modi Government, however, is unlikely to buckle under pressure from Beijing.

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