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India very important country in Asia: Dalai Lama


New Delhi : The Dalai Lama Friday said here that India should be seen as one of the most important Asian countries. He also stressed that while he no longer considered himself the temporal leader of Tibetans, China had “revitalised” him as a politician.

“For many years, whenever I was in Washington and Europe, I always told leaders that when you think about Asia, you must think of India too,” he said, answering a query on the recent US-China joint statement that China should help in the stability of South Asia.

The joint statement had led to concerns in India about the US giving a role to China in bilateral issues relating to India and Pakistan. India responded to the statement by saying that there was no role for a third country in resolving the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan.

“India is very important. Not just due to the size of population, but (is) also among the greatest of democracies,” the Dalai Lama said while delivering the annual Sunanda Bhandari lecture at the Siri Fort auditorium here.

The Dalai Lama also said that he no longer considered himself as the temporal head of the Tibetan people.

“I am no more both the temporal and spiritual leader since 2001… My position is semi-retired, but the Chinese government has revitalised me as a politician.”

Interestingly, he said he had wanted to join the Chinese Communist party in 1954-55, when he was impressed with Mao Tse-Tung and the dedication of other party leaders to the welfare of the worker. But he said he became disillusioned in later years with the ruthless suppression of all critics of the party.

“I asked people…that I wanted to join the Communist Party,” he said.

The Dalai Lama said that the Chinese Communist leaders had demonstrated their ability to be ruthlessly pragmatic.

Commenting on the recent stress from the Chinese leadership on a “harmonious” society, he said: “Trust and transparency is the key thing to genuine harmony.”

Noting that “censorship and distorted propaganda” were diametrically opposite to this line, he said: “The Chinese government or party have no right to keep away reality from people.”

Asked about his successor, the Dalai Lama said: “I am not concerned about the preservation of this institution.”

“I have said that if the nature of the Dalai Lama is no longer relevant, then it should be let to wither. There could be different succession patterns, like choosing the pope or a selection from high spiritual leaders,” he said, indicating that his successor may not be chosen by the traditional route of identifying a reincarnation.