[Answered] How has India’s policy towards Tibet and the Tibetan refugees evolved since 1959? How can India balance its support for the Tibetan community with its diplomatic relations with China?

Introduction: Contextual Introduction

Body: Evolution of India’s policy towards Tibet & how it maintains the balance between Tibetan Community & China.

Conclusion: Way forward

India’s policy towards Tibet and Tibetan refugees has evolved significantly since 1959, shaped by geopolitical dynamics and domestic considerations.

Evolution of India’s Policy Towards Tibet and Tibetan Refugees

  • 1959 – Initial Refuge and Support: Following the 1959 Tibetan uprising, India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan refugees, allowing the establishment of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in Dharamshala. This marked a significant humanitarian gesture by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • 1960s – 1980s – Tensions and Pragmatism: The Sino-Indian War of 1962 strained relations between India and China & over the subsequent decades, India’s policy oscillated between supporting the cultural and humanitarian needs of the Tibetan community and managing its complex relationship with China.
  • 1990s – Early 2000s – Diplomatic Engagement: During this period, India and China improved bilateral relations through high-level visits and confidence-building measures. India continued to support the Tibetan community while reaffirming its recognition of Tibet as an autonomous region of China.
  • Recent Developments: In recent years, the dynamics have become more nuanced, with India’s policy reflecting a balance between humanitarian support for Tibetan refugees and strategic considerations vis-à-vis China. Issues like the Doklam standoff in 2017 and the Galwan Valley clash in 2020 have influenced India’s approach to China and its handling of the Tibetan issue.

Balancing Support for the Tibetan Community with Diplomatic Relations with China

  • Humanitarian and Cultural Support: India can continue to provide humanitarian aid and support to the Tibetan refugee community, ensuring their welfare and the preservation of their cultural heritage.
  • Non-Interference in Political Activities: While supporting the humanitarian needs of the Tibetan community, India can maintain a policy of non-interference in political activities against China.
  • Strategic Diplomacy: India can engage in strategic diplomacy by leveraging its relationship with the Tibetan community as a soft power tool while simultaneously pursuing confidence-building measures and dialogue with China to manage bilateral relations.
  • International Cooperation: Working with other countries and international organizations to advocate for the human rights and cultural preservation of Tibetans can help distribute the responsibility and reduce direct bilateral friction with China.
  • Clear Policy Framework: Developing a clear and consistent policy framework that outlines India’s stance on Tibet and the Tibetan refugees can help manage expectations and reduce misunderstandings with China.


India can sustain its pivotal role in the region and worldwide arena by implementing these tactics, which will enable it to strike a balance between its diplomatic relations with China and its support for the Tibetan community.

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