The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) has embargoed all information related to the opening ceremony of the “Thank You India” campaign which is to start from 31 March at Dharamshala. The guest list of the dignitaries is being kept under wraps and will be revealed only a day before, said sources in the CTA.
The “Thank You India” campaign was scheduled to begin with an inter-faith prayer meet headed by the Dalai Lama at Rajghat in New Delhi, but the venue was changed unceremoniously to Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, after the Indian government directed its officials at the Centre and state governments to refrain from participating in the campaign. Tibet’s government-in-exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration, is based at Dharamshala. The prayer meet that was to be held at Rajghat was to be followed by a public event at Thyagraj Stadium, which too stands cancelled.
Informed sources told The Sunday Guardian that the list of guests who are being invited is being kept a secret. “Generally, we do not embargo such information for our events, but for events of huge relevance, it has been done in the past for various security, strategic and political reasons. Last time, there was an embargo on our preparations when His Holiness Dalai Lama had to meet a high-level US Congressional delegation in May 2017,” a source said.In January, while announcing the “Thank You India” campaign in New Delhi, CTA president Dr Lobsang Sangay had said that he would like to gift the ensemble of the campaign to Prime Minister Narendra Modi which had led to speculation that PM Modi might participate in the campaign. However, sources in the CTA said that there is no progress on the gift.
The campaign will continue as a pan-India one that will celebrate Tibet’s gratitude towards India for being a “father-like-figure”. However, the decision to change the venue of the mega event to be held on 31 March at Dharamshala has posed some logistic problems. A source said, “People whom we intended to invite might not be able to travel all the way to Dharamshala now. Delhi was a convenient venue. Because of these technical reasons, some important people might skip attendance.”
As far as resentment among Tibetans towards the Indian government for restraining ministers and officials from participating in the campaign is concerned, a source in the CTA said, “Those who are well aware with internal matters and functioning know that this will not affect Tibet’s affection towards India. But among the common masses, the resentment has found a place. The people can take it as an offence that the gratitude that Tibetans were trying to express to India was ill-received, but, in the same breath, internal officials understand the circumstances.”
Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, had said, “India’s position on the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent. He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. There is no change in that position.”
Last year, when India had allowed the Dalai Lama to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, China’s state media had seen it as a “provocation” after which the heat subsided. But India’s denial to let its officials participate in the “Thank You India” campaign was seen as a change in India’s assertiveness towards Tibet. In June, PM Modi is scheduled to visit China to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.Observers point out that India did not want any incident that could derail the talks and played safe by refraining Indian officials and ministers from participating in Tibet’s “Thank You India” campaign.