Modi should also espouse the cause of hapless Tibetans

Modi’s laudable efforts for world peace by trying to bring accord between Ukraine and Russia would be an incomplete exercise if he fails to espouse nearer home the plight of the Tibetans and highlight their pain

N S Venkataraman May 26, 2023
Tibetan Refugees (Photo: Central Tibetan Administration)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Ukraine’s  President Volodymyr Zelensky in Hiroshima, Japan on 20th May 2023 and  Modi promised that India would do its best to end the war between Russia and Ukraine.  This is a reassuring statement since India has good relations with both Ukraine and Russia and is in a  position to mediate between both these countries in a just manner.

Of course, Modi’s quest for peace between both these countries is in sharp contrast to the announced efforts of  Chinese President Xi Jinping, since China itself is widely perceived to have territorial ambitions and many people may think that China promise to mediate between Ukraine and Russia is similar to the devil quoting scriptures.

What is more interesting is that Modi was reported to have told Ukraine’s president:  “You know much more than any of us the pain of war but I could very well understand your pain and the pain of the Ukrainian people when our children narrated the circumstances in your country after they were brought back last year”.  

While it is gratifying to know that Modi understands the pain of Ukrainians,  where millions of Ukrainians have suffered enormously due to the war launched by Russia against Ukraine and have been forced to leave their motherland to go to other countries as refugees, one cannot but think that Modi does not seem to have said at any time about his understanding the pain of Tibetans. Tibetans were massacred by China when China entered Tibet forcing thousands of Tibetans to leave their motherland and go to India as refugees.

Pain of Tibetans no less 

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine is taking place on Ukrainian soil and airspace and not on that of Russia.  This obviously shows clearly that Russia is the aggressor.  Russia has been mercilessly bombing and attacking Ukraine and in the process, a large number of Ukrainians have lost their lives. There is really no difference between the act of Russia in Ukraine and that of China in Tibet.

While Ukraine is getting sympathy and support from several countries, this was not the case in the case of Tibetans when they were mercilessly attacked by China in the late fifties and Tibetans continue to be persecuted systematically. Tibet was left high and dry and the world's conscience appeared to have become silent.  Till today, justice has not been done to Tibetans and China is ruling the Tibetan region with an iron fist and is virtually keeping Tibet out of the sight of the world.

Espousing the Tibetan cause

It is high time that the UN as well as several countries and the world community committed to the cause of peace and fair play should view the Tibetan issue with the same perspective and concern as they do in the case of Ukraine.  Unfortunately, China appears to have been allowed to have the last laugh as far as the Tibetan issue is concerned.

Thousands of Tibetan refugees are now In India without knowing when they would get their motherland back.

India too has been attacked by China several times causing loss of lives and China is occupying several thousands of kilometres of Indian territory at present.

China is certainly not going to allow any reconciliatory moves by Modi in Tibet which Beijing considers a part of China.  However, it would be good if Modi starts speaking about the pain of Tibetans, which certainly he would understand, and wake up the conscience of the world over the Tibetan cause.

Modi’s laudable efforts for world peace by trying to bring accord between Ukraine and Russia would be an incomplete exercise if he fails to espouse nearer home the plight of the Tibetans and highlight their pain.

(The writer is a Trustee, NGO Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai. Views are personal. He can be contacted at

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