Indian Parliament Urged to Recognize the Dalai Lama with the Bharat Ratna, the Country’s Highest Civilian Award

“The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, deserves to be in this hallowed company for being a messenger of peace—as well as of laughter—as the spiritual head of Buddhism,” wrote the Economic Times in an August 18 op-ed. “Like Mother Teresa, another recipient of Bharat Ratna (1980), the Dalai Lama has made India his home since his escape to India in 1959 after China’s ‘annexation’ of Tibet.”

(The Dalai Lama. Photo by Salvacampillo,
(The Dalai Lama. Photo by Salvacampillo,

The award has been conferred only on two other non-Indians, Baloch leader Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990).

“The Dalai Lama certainly measures up to the criterion of providing ‘exceptional service/performance of the highest order’ to fellow humans over decades,” the opinion piece continues. “Conferring him the Ratna will also underline India’s talent to value remarkable persons. 

The All Party Indian Parliamentary Forum for Tibet (APIPFT) is urging the Indian government to confer the award and to address and resolve ongoing issues faced by Tibetans living in India. Shri Sujeet Kumar, who convenes the APIPFT, has also prepared a Private Member’s Bill seeking a Tibet Policy Act. He is requesting the government to appoint a special coordinator within the Ministry of External Affairs for Tibet-related issues to promote “substantive dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and his representatives or democratically-elected leaders of the Tibetan community.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was proclaimed leader of Tibet in 1950 when China rejected Tibet’s sovereignty and incorporated it into the People’s Republic of China. Chinese authorities forced the Dalai Lama and 80,000 Tibetans to flee Tibet in 1959. His Holiness has never returned, living as an exile in India, but traveling throughout the world bringing a message of peace and nonviolence.

In accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the Dalai Lama said: “I accept the prize with profound gratitude on behalf of the oppressed everywhere and for all those who struggle for freedom and work for world peace. I accept it as a tribute to the man who founded the modern tradition of nonviolent action for change—Mahatma Gandhi—whose life taught and inspired me. And, of course, I accept it on behalf of the six million Tibetan people, my brave countrymen and women inside Tibet, who have suffered and continue to suffer so much. They confront a calculated and systematic strategy aimed at the destruction of their national and cultural identities. The prize reaffirms our conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, Tibet will be liberated.”

The Nobel Committee, in awarding the prize, honored the Tibetan leader stating: “The Committee wants to emphasize the fact that the Dalai Lama in his struggle for the liberation of Tibet consistently has opposed the use of violence. He has instead advocated peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.

“The Dalai Lama has developed his philosophy of peace from a great reverence for all things living and upon the concept of universal responsibility embracing all mankind as well as nature. In the opinion of the Committee the Dalai Lama has come forward with constructive and forward-looking proposals for the solution of international conflicts, human rights issues, and global environmental problems.”


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China Dalai Lama India Tibet Tenzin Gyatso Bharat Rata