Courtesy: Sheshapatangi1 https://twitter.com/sheshapatangi1/status/1519882907455696899?s=21&t=Xt1Vy_kfGP9wkhdxbMWI8w
On this day in 1954, Nehru Government Officially DENOUNCED TIBET.
Excerpts from Tibet – The Lost Frontier by Claude Arpi.
On May 15, 1954 – Nehru summed up the debate in the parliament by saying “in my opinion, we have done no better thing than this since we became independent. I have no doubt about this… I think it is right for our country, for Asia and for the World”.
It took only few days for India to discover that all problems had not been settled. The first Chinese incursion in the Barahoti area of Uttar Pradesh occurred in June 1954. This was the first of a series of hundreds of incursions which culminated in the attack of October 1962.
In school, we studied Nehru’s #Panchsheel agreement & how it brought India and China closer and the popular phrase Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai. But Reality ?
The “Agreement on Trade & Intercourse between the Tibet region of China and India” was signed on 29th April 1954 in Beijing by the Indian Ambassador N. Raghavan & Chang Han-fu, the Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister of China. It is remembered as the Panchsheel Agreement.
During a speech on the occasion of the signing, Zhou Enlai reiterated that the questions which were “ripe for settlement have been resolved”.
The subtleties of Zhou disturbed very few in Delhi, though before the Conference some diplomats such as Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, had strongly advised that India should force Beijing to recognize the traditional boundary between India & Tibet as the only way to resolve all the outstanding questions between India, China and Tibet.
Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, had strongly advised that India should force Beijing to recognize the traditional boundary between India & Tibet as the only way to resolve all the outstanding questions between India, China and Tibet.
Beijing got what it wanted: the omission of Demchok pass in the Treaty, (leaving the door of Aksai Chin open), the removal of the last Indian jawans from Tibet, the surrender of Indian telegraphic lines and guest houses, but first and foremost the Indian stamp of approval on their occupation of Tibet.
The Nehru Government through this exchange handed over all advantages accrued from the Simla Convention. India would not ask for nor get anything in return, not even the confirmation of the McMahon line.
During the following years, the same refrain would often be repeated: “The Government of India found the old advantages of little use and in any case the Chinese exercised full control in Tibet.”
But there is another side to the coin. For many years the so-called ‘colonial’ agreement on Tibet (i.e. the Simla Convention) had provided protection to the Land of Snows against an expansionist Eastern neighbour. It had allowed this nation to survive with complete internal autonomy. In 1954, the same nation was not even informed about the Agreement. Indeed, the Panchsheel Agreement was no less ‘colonial’ in nature than the treaties forced by the British on smaller nations without their knowing it.
The title of the Agreement itself was a major victory for the Chinese side. From an independent State, Tibet became ‘Tibet’s Region of China’ in the new Agreement.
What were the concessions offered by Chang ‘to his Indian friends’?
The ‘Panchsheel Agreement’ marked the apogee of the Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai policy: Gopal, Nehru’s official biographer, called the ‘Zenith of World Influence’.
The preamble was merely a post-mortem sermon for Tibet as an independent State. During the following months, this innocuous agreement dealing with trade and travel regulations with Tibet became the new mantra of Indian diplomacy. Some politicians believed that the amazing Five Principles would solve all the problems in the relations between developing and non-aligned nations of the world.
How many in India realized the ironical paradox of these precepts which triggered the virtual disappearance of a nation which itself had traditionally practiced these 5 principles? Tibet, the non-violent nation par excellence had not only preached peaceful co-existence, mutual respect, equanimity, non-interference, but had spread these precepts as far as China, Manchuria, Mongolia and Siberia.
On May 15, 1954, Nehru presented the Agreement to the Indian Parliament and said
“The only country that had more intimate relations with Tibet was India, thatis to say, British India in those days. Even then, when it was Brits policy 2 have some measure of influence over Tibet, even then they never denied the fact of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, although in practice it was hardly exercised & they laid stress on Tibetan autonomy.”
Once more, he reiterated that the most important feature of the Agreement was not the fate of the Tibetans, but the ‘wider implications’. Unfortunately, for India, the loss of her natural buffer zone with China was indeed to have even ‘wider’ implications. It would take several years for Delhi to discover this.
It did not occur to Nehru to ask the most interested party, the Tibetans, who most likely would have preferred to live with a couple of hundred Indian jawans rather than with tens of thousands of soldiers of the ‘Liberation Army’.
In the same
speech Nehru spoke about Agreement Panchsheel: “Live and let live, no one should invade the other, no one should fight the other… this is the basic principle which we have put in our treaty.”
During the debate which followed, most of the members from the Congress & Communists were enthusiastic in their endorsement of the agreement.
Acharya Kripalani strongly attacked the Government policy: “It affects us all and we have to say something about it. We feel that China, after it had gone Communist, committed an act of aggression against Tibet.”
Kripalani went on to mention that the new maps printed in China showed Nepal, Sikkim, etc. as part of China & he concluded: “In International politics when a buffer state is abolished by a powerful nation that nation is considered to have aggressive designs on its neighbours.”
Nehru summed up the debate by saying “in my opinion, we have done no better thing than this since we became independent. I have no doubt about this… I think it is right for our country, for Asia and for the World”.