Tuesday, August 11, 2020

The End of an Era: India Exits Tibet

The last volume of my quadrilogy on the relations between India and Tibet (1947-1962) is now out.
I am posting today some extracts of the Introduction, which give an idea of the content.

The End of an Era: India Exits Tibet: India Tibet Relations (1947-1962) - Part 4 (1957 - 1962)
The study was carried out under the Field Marshal KM Cariappa Chair of Excellence of the United Service Institution of India (USI).
The quadrlogy is published by Vij Books India Pvt Ltd for USI.

A paperback edition is also available.
Click here to order...


1- The End of an Era; India Exits Tibet (India-Tibet Relations 1947-1962 - Part 4) 
by Thubten Samphel in The Hindustan Times

Here is the link... 
2- Jawaharlal Nehru ignored intelligence report of Chinese road in Indian territory in 1957
By Rajeev Deshpande in The Times of India

Here is the link...
3- How Nehru could have saved Tibet from China
By  Ambassador Prabhat P. Shukla in Rediff.com

Claude Arpi deserves to be complimented for the commitment and hard work that have gone into this production.
The frustrations of seeking reliable documentation from the catacombs of the Indian bureaucracy did not deter him from going after the best information available, and the result is one that he can take much satisfaction in.
Ambassador Prabhat P Shukla, Member Advisory Council, Vivekananda International Foundation, reviews Claude Arpi's
The End of an Era: India Exits Tibet.

4- India, China, Tibet

by Ambassador Krishnan Srinivasan, former Foreign Secretary in The Statesman

Nehru saw China as a partner to create a new post-colonial world, and his aspirations for a global role linked to a big power neglected India’s national and security priorities at great cost. This should be an enduring lesson for our present and future governments.

Here is the link...
5- Putting Tibet Back in Focus

by Maj Gen Vinaya Chandran (Retd) in
Open Magazine

Historian Claude Arpi goes beyond the British and Chinese narratives to examine older ties between India and the region
6- When China talks of peace, India must prepare for war

by Utpal Kumar in The Daily Guardian

Before waging a war, Dragon often invokes peace. It used the same tactic to convince Nehru to send food for the invading PLA troops in Tibet who, as new evidences suggest, used their presence there to prepare for the 1962 war against India.
7- India walked away from Tibet, Not Looking Back

An Interview with Surya Gangadharan for StratNews Global 

Sixty years of China's occupation has not diminished the Tibetan desire for freedom,says renowned author and scholar on Tibet affairs Claude Arpi. In a skype chat with on Books Corner, Arpi talked about the fourth volume of his Tibet series titled The End of An Era: India Exits Tibet. It covers the crucial period from 1947 to 1962,when China forced the closure of India's consulate in Lhasa and the trade agencies in Yatung, Gyantse and Gartok. It ended the centuries old relationship between Tibet and India,putting an end to bonding that enriched the two peoples. 
Why India complied to the Chinese demand without any resistance is not clear.It appears the Indian leadership at that time saw no purpose in resisting although there were voices to the contrary,some even advocating a strong Indian response in areas like the Chumbi Valley,to counter China's moves. But to no avail. The political leadership would have have nothing to do with it. So India walked away from Tibet without a backward glance. In the current standoff with China in eastern Ladakh,Arpi believes India is finally showing spine and a refusal  to tolerate any more "incremental nibbling" by Beijing.
How this will end is hard to say.
Arpi notes that coercion is China's way and it may prefer to avoid armed conflict. But China may  have lost face in this standoff,more to the point, Xi Jinping may have, with unpredictable consequences for the future.

8- Claude Arpi's Latest On India-Tibet: Is An Important Work, Coming At An Important Time

by Prof Mayank Singh, Benares Hindu University, in Swarajya
Here is the link...

The End of an Era: India Exits Tibet is as extensive a work as any scholar would find on the subject. Arpi’s strength, apart from his vast knowledge, is his love for the subject which makes the book racy, almost fiction-like.
9-  The Tibet watcher

by Sneha Bhura in
The Week
Here is the link...

For Tibetologist Claude Arpi, border issues can go hand in hand with a spiritual life.
Claude Arpi does not much care for Twitter. The 71-year-old Tibetologist, is convinced that the ongoing India-China border dispute cannot be discussed in 280 characters. The Frenchman has also been resisting invitations for webinars and virtual panels. But, he could not avoid the virtual event on October 16—the release of the last part of his quadrilogy on India-Tibet relations (1947-1962); Tibet: The Last Months of a Free Nation (2017), Will Tibet Ever Find her Soul Again? (2018), Tibet: When the Gods Spoke (2019) and The End of an Era, India Exits Tibet. Arpi dug into difficult-to access archival material to spotlight India’s Tibet policy then, the blunders therein and how it complicated boundary relations leading to the 1962 Indo-China War.
10.  Unravelling the mysteries of India’s last days in Tibet

by Ananth Krishnan in The Hindu

Here is the link...

Reasons for the closure of the Indian Consulate in Lhasa in December 1962 remain unclear.
For a development as significant as the end of India’s presence in Tibet, the events surrounding the closure of India’s Consulate General in Lhasa in December 1962 still remain a small footnote in the history of that period, forgotten in the immediate aftermath of the war earlier that year.

Extracts from the Introduction of Volume 4

The last volume of our study on the relations between India and Tibet (1947-62)  is a rather depressing, as it narrates the last years of the Indian presence in Tibet which ended under the most dramatic circumstances - a War.

The period covered in the last volume (1958-1962) witnessed the most dramatic events of the bilateral relations between India and Tibet; first, the consolidation of the military presence on the plateau, then the Uprising of the Tibetan masses in March 1959, which prompted the Dalai Lama to flee to India, where the Tibetan leader and tens of thousands of his followers became refugees. Though the Chinese propaganda projected the March 1959 events as the ‘emancipation of the serfs’, the reality was very different.
Even today, the Chinese propaganda claims the opposite of the historical truths.
The reports from the Indian Trade Agents in Gartok, Gyantse and Yatung, as well as the Consul General of India in Lhasa are looked into in detail. An era was coming to an end; Mao’s China did not want any Indian presence in ‘their’ new colony. A sense of jealousy towards India prevailed; Beijing clearly resented the existence of an age-old civilizational relation between India and Tibet. In these circumstances, it became clear that the 1954 Panchsheel Agreement would not be renewed and the Trade Agencies in Yatung, Gyanste and Gartok would have to be closed; it happened in the Spring of 1962.

The Indian Trade Agency in Yatung till 1962
It was a property of the Government of India

The site of the Agency, which has been destroyed by China
A government building has been built on the spot

The two years before the closure of the Indian diplomatic missions, saw a constant harassment of the Indian diplomatic personnel in Tibet who had to deal with thorny issues such as the fate of the Indian traders, the vicissitude of the pilgrims to Mt Kailash, the status of the Kashmiri Muslims, known as Kachis, or the nationality of the Ladakhi monks in the Tibetan monasteries.
On the diplomatic front, one can only regret that the 1960 talks between Premier Zhou Enlai and the Indian government did not bear fruit; this volume does not deal at length with this issue, as it is out of the scope of this research; however the less known talks between the Indian Chargé d’Affaires and a senior Chinese diplomat in Beijing have been covered.
The PLA’s preparations for a war were evident, except for Delhi who was living in a dream world; the reports from Lhasa should at least have opened the eyes of the Indian intelligence agencies; it was not to be the case.
Another tragedy was the closure of the Indian Consulate in Lhasa around mid-December 1962, three weeks after the unilateral declaration of ceasefire by the Chinese.
Trying to reconstitute what happened from the few sources available has been a hard job; unfortunately the Ministry of External Affairs still jealously keeps classified all documents related to 1961-62.
Does it help India’s interests? Certainly not.
And it leaves more questions than answers.
During all these events, a sense of

inexorability prevailed.

The Deputy Indian Trade Agent and his party on their way to Tibet
(courtesy: Ipshita Rawat)

Using new sources, the volumes ends with by a couple of not-too-well known aspects of the 1962 China-India war, in particular, the five-year ‘training’ of the PLA during the Tibetan insurgency which greatly helped the Chinese forces becoming familiar with the terrain and other logistic difficulties on the plateau. Our personal research on the fate of the PoWs kept in Tibet, reveals another tragedy within the greater tragedy, which was the 1962 War.
In Volume 3, we quoted Apa Pant, the Political Officer in Sikkim, saying that the Chinese officers were not interested “in harmony and compassion but in power and material benefit”; Pant spoke of the confrontation of two different worlds: “The one so apparently inefficient, so humane and even timid, yet kind and compassionate and aspiring to something more gloriously satisfying in human life; the other determined and effective, ruthless, power-hungry and finally intolerant. I wondered how this conflict could resolve itself, and what was India’s place in it.”
An ancient world disapp

eared in 1962 and in the process, India lost a friend, a kind neighbour and a peaceful border.
To end, we shall cite the personal experience of a senior Indian officer who spent some six months in a PoW camp in Tibet.
The officer recounted: “One other episode of our stay in the PoW camp is worth recording. After we were allowed to sit on top of our house in the Sun, we would often see an old lama in the monastery above and if he caught our eye, he would take out his hand from under his robes for a split second and make a sign of blessings, as it were. After a few times we felt convinced that he was conveying goodwill to us. So, we would also make a quick sign of salutation with folded hands in return. He would never stay long in our sight.”
The narrative continues: “One day, towards the end of our stay, at our request we were taken to see the palace and the monastery. It was a shock to see the palace with all the beautiful Buddha statues of all sizes and fabulous scrolls (thankas) lying broken, defiled and torn and trampled on the ground. In the monastery, a couple of lamas were still staying including the one we ‘knew’ by sight. When we were walking through the usual dark corridors on the conducted tour, this lama was just ahead of me with a guard in front. He sought my hand in the darkness and pressed it. I quickly responded with both my hands. This episode is mentioned just to illustrate the true feelings of Tibetans towards us Indians.”
When Beijing speaks of reopening Old Silk Roads, it should be reminded that the roads between India and Tibet were based on centuries of kinship and shared values. No doubt, the Peoples’ Republic of China has been able to annex Tibet by force of arms; whether they will be able to assimilate Tibetans into their system is a moot question, the answer to which only the future holds.

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