Leh, 6 October — Under a brilliant, sunlight sky in Leh, 11 experts on Tibet and the Himalayas discussed the ancient cultural and spiritual contacts between the two in a three-day conference organised by the Delhi-based Foundation for Non-violent Alternatives (FNVA) from 5 to 7 October.
The conference was kicked off by Mr. O. P. Tandon, a trustee of the Foundation, who said that there would be two more follow-up conferences to examine the cultural and spiritual links between Tibet and the Himalayas.
In his valedictory address, Ambassador Ranjit Gupta said that this was an opportune time to examine this linkage.
The entire conference was skilfully moderated by Professor Siddiq Wahid, director of the Institute of Kashmir Studies in Srinagar. He said that the Himalayas were influenced by the Tibetan Buddhist civilization from the north and that of the Indic civilization from the south.
The first speaker at the conference was Dr. Sonam Joldan, a professor at the Islamic University of Science and Technology in Jammu, who spoke about Tibet and Ladakh and the historical relations between the two and some important factors that still sustain the relationship.
Mr. Lobsang, deputy director of the Tibet Policy Institute of the Central Tibetan Administration, spoke about the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet and its impact on neighbours. He said that before the Chinese invasion Tibet served as a centre of learning for the whole Himalayan region. Since the occupation the source of this learning was drained and moved to India where the Tibetan refugees established themselves.
Professor Sangeeta Thapliyal of JNU explored the trans-Himalayan linkages amongst India, Nepal and Tibet.
Dr. Nani Bath from Arunachal Pradesh spoke about his state’s ancient links with Tibet.
Professor Chetan Singh talked about Kinnaur’s relations with Tibet.
Claude Arpi, a well-known author and expert on Tibet spoke about the changing definition of border and how India’s first prime minister at one point said national boundaries were becoming increasingly anachronistic.
Thubten Samphel, the director of the Tibet Policy Institute of the Central Tibetan Administration spoke about Tibet’s geopolitical importance and how the issue of Tibet is not just the Tibetan people’s problem but a problem for the whole of Asia.