How India Lost its Locus Standai in Lhasa ( Tibet)

Indian retreat from Lhasa

India and Tibet had a close relationship. It however was snapped with the Chinese invasion of Tibet and now India has not even a consulate in Llasa.

Chinese Won't Allow an Indian Consulate in Lhasa


Tibet for long was a buffer state between India and China. In addition since the birth of Buddha, Tibet’s culture was interlinked with that of India. Disciples of the Buddha left India and travelled to Tibet .This resulted in the spread of Buddhism to Tibet. India thus had always strong relation with Tibet. Unfortunately after the lapse of British power in India, the government led by JL Nehru had a different concept of British imperialism. The result was that India surrendered all privileges in Tibet.

The Chinese who had always considered Tibet a part of China invaded Tibet in 1950.

Nehru just twiddled his thumbs as the PLA overran Tibet without the semblance of a fight by the Tibet army. Nehru made one of his many foolish statements at that time and said “India recognizes the Chinese suzerainty over Tibet, but also recognizes the autonomy of Tibet”. How this Autonomy could be enforced with Chinese boots on the ground, was not addressed by Nehru.  It is evident he lived in a Utopian world.

The Chinese allowed the Indian embassy to initially function in Lhasa. However they put sever restrictions on the movement of the Indian diplomatic personnel outside Lhasa. The Tibetans felt that with the Indian Embassy in Lhasa, they still had a ray of hope.

In 1959 the Dalai Lama fearing his  kidnapping and assassination, escaped in the dead of night to India. The Chinese could not discover the escape for 2 days and by that time the Dalai lama had entered Indian and Nehru for once showed some spunk by giving asylum to the Dalai Lama.

The incensed Chinese put severe restrictions on the Indian mission and downgraded it. Nehru perforce agreed. In 1962 the Chinese invaded India. This was long planned by Mao, to humiliate Nehru and India.  The India army suffered a catastrophic defeat. The Chinese now moved against the Indian mission in Lhasa and closed it. They repatriated all Indian personnel to India. At the same time the thriving border trade with India was stopped as the Chinese sealed all the trading points.

As India was militarily weak, Nehru had no choice but to agree and Indian mission in Lhasa became history. Since 1962 India does not have a mission in Lhasa. In 2014, at a meeting the Indians put forward a proposal for reopening of the Indian mission in Lhasa. China unfortunately rejected the proposal.  One fact has merged is that Chinese are scared of an Indian mission in China as the Tibet people look to India as their savior. China cannot allow a rallying point for Tibetans in Lhasa. The matter remains as it is and India which had close relations with Tibet for over 2000 years is now persona non grata in Lhasa. Who is to blame for this? History will judge Nehru harshly for his folly in not reacting when the Chinese invaded Tibet.  The clock now cannot be put back as the Indio- China (Tibet) border is now a live wire with China claiming vast areas of Indian Territory. Will India ever get back to Tibet? This is a million dollar question and there is no answer

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Really very informative article,India and Tibet have long cultural ties as the spread of Buddhism bonded the two but then as the history reveals China took over it and India lost its influence over Tibet.The mistake of Nehru has made India to lose strategically important Tibet and now it seems impossible for India to ever get it back.


Dear Sir, Thanks a lot for sharing the facts. I am enlightened in fact. I just think, so many people have criticized Dr Kalam for focusing on the defense issue. But everyday we come to know about new threats upon our integrity when we follow the news. People must be aware!


Thank you Arundhati for a intelligent comment