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Wednesday, 19 January, 2000, 11:00 GMT
Should India grant asylum to the boy Lama?




The dramatic flight of the 14-year old Karmapa Lama from Chinese-ruled Tibet to India has put the government in Delhi on the spot.

India says no request for asylum has been received from the Karmapa Lama after his eight-day trek across the Himalayas, and is still studying the circumstances of his arrival.

The Tibetan government-in-exile wants India to respond favourably to any asylum request. But China has warned India that any move to grant the "living Buddha" asylum could jeopardise ties between the two Asian giants.




The rest of the world should support India if it decides to grant asylum to the Lama.
Zhan McIntyre, Scotland
The rest of the world should support India if it decides to grant asylum to the Lama, and make a stand against the infringement of human rights carried out against the Tibetians all this time.
Zhan McIntyre, Scotland

India should grant asylum only if the US agrees to help India become as strong as China. Namely, accept India as a nuclear power and back it's entry as a permanent member of the UN security council. After all, it will need nuclear weapons and US support if it does grant asylum as China will do it's best to assist its totalitarian ally, Pakistan to destabilise India.
Anand Patel, USA/India

I believe in the fundamental right of an individual that he is allowed to practice a religion he chooses, which is neither forced upon nor lured into. Its high time that the Chinese government realise this fact and in this particular case, the karmapa lama is a spiritual leader and not a political separatist. He is welcome in India to practice and study what he believes in.
Rajkumar, USA/India

Things are not always black and white in the real world. In politics, sometimes we have to do what's best in the long term. As much as I would want to give asylum to the boy Lama, India has been working very hard to mend the crack between China and India. If this would create difference of opinion between the two nations, I would ask US to grant him asylum. US can afford to antagonise China, but India cannot. If US doesn't grant asylum, then India should accept Karmapa with open arms.
Ramesh Mahalingam, USA/India

By tradition, India will welcome and let Karmapa stay in India along with the hundreds of thousands of other Tibetans. The Chinese people need to understand the BRUTALITY of their government and overthrow them soon. Remember the lone Chinese in front of the tank in Tiannenman square. The only real friends China has are North Korea, Pakistan, Myanmar and all the other dictatorships. China has no moral authority what so ever. Taiwan is a beacon of what is wrong with the Mainland Chinese government. The butchers of Beijing like Li Peng are still in control and need to be thrown in the Yangtze river. The West needs to understand that the cheap goods from China should not be the basis of a so-called Strategic relationship with China.
Venkat Subramaniam, USA

India should grant asylum to the Karmapa and also allow him to travel freely. This will give him the opportunity so long denied to be with his teachers. He should also be supported in his efforts by the US government should he wish to be granted asylum here. In addition, although the Karmapa is a spiritual leader, not a political leader, this is the time for moral peoples of the world to finally come together and demand an end to the murder and torture that has been practised for 50 years in Tibet by the Chinese government.
Debbie Thomas, USA

India has always been a country which has given shelter to millions of Tibetans. Even though Indian government faced difficulties from local people where Tibetans were relocated still they are living there. Now the Karmapa Lama is just another drop in the ocean of Tibetan refugees. The fact that he is number 3 in hierarchy of Buddhism doesn't give any special status. He is always welcome in India and as an Indian I will be happy to give him asylum. Moreover he came to India to study rather than stay that too only when Chinese government rejected visit visa to his guru or Master.
Sridhar, India

Give him asylum and give him a voice. The more the people of world understand the peace, equanimity and compassion of the philosophy of Tibetan Buddhism (not as a religion but a way of life and of living for the benefit of all people) the better everyone's chances (including the Chinese) of a future bathed in the light of tolerance, patience, peace, understanding and non-violence.
Stig Richards, Australia/UK

As a native Chinese from the mainland, I'm so upset that we have to discuss the issue here. We must grant the Lama asylum! Human rights have an absolute value and can't be calculated, traded, or balanced with something else. Human rights should also be the same in any country and any culture.
Leo Young (Chinese), The Netherlands

In relations with China, the west, and Britain in particular, have shown that human rights come second to business interests. It is time for the world in general to show their support for India in granting political asylum to the Karmapa Lama.
John McDonagh, UK

India should grant asylum to the boy Lama. It is a great opportunity for the Indian Government to stand up to a Bully. However, I think it be more effective for the Tibetans, if the boy lama asks for asylum from the west. By putting a country such as the US on the spot, the Karmapa Lama would force the issue of Tibet onto the world's stage. Staying in India would make it easy for the west to ignore the real problem in Tibet and continue to overlook China's woeful human rights record as there is a lot of money to be made in the process.
Bharath Vaidyanathan, India

India has generally granted shelter to all persecuted peoples. I think it should do the same in this case. Unfortunately, the west responds by getting pally with China, Pakistan and other countries hostile to India
Raj B, India



If India and China sour relations with one another it could result in many many deaths, and as such India should refuse the boy asylum.
Simon Red, UK
The needs of the many always outweigh the needs of the few. If India and China sour relations with one another it could result in many many deaths, and as such India should refuse the boy asylum. It is impossible to take an individual case and blow it out of all proportion because at the end of the day the Lama is simply one boy and there are millions of other Indians and Chinese we should take into consideration.
Simon Red, UK

Even if a majority of Indians believe that the Karmapa should be granted asylum , don't count on the BJP government . Their recent capitulation to a brutish band of terrorists in Kandahar suggests that anybody can issue warnings to them and they will beat a snivelling retreat.
Paul Mathew, USA/India

I think India should grant asylum to Karmapa, the Tibetan Lama. India should not be cowed down by the high-handed behaviour of China which has little or no respect towards freedom and democracy. Also India should be careful with what the West has to say in this matter. I feel that the West is using India as a pawn against China. The West has no interest and no right to interfere in this matter. It just wants to show one-upmanship.
Sumanth Morampudi, India

China should stop trying to harass India in this Karmapa episode. Being a land of great spiritual growth, India should warmly welcome the boy Lama and allow his spirituality to flourish.
Satyam, Malaysia

India should take the correct moral position of granting asylum to the Karmapa Lama and set an example to other major democratic nations. Too many countries these days give lip service to Human Rights without really standing by the principles they espouse. Shame on them! All for trade with China. The China of today is totalitarian, repressive, corrupt, and expansionist. Its laws are there only for PARTY ELITE to maintain their position! Often China makes threatening comments to its neighbours that they should comply with China's wishes or risk threat of aggression or invasion. Giving in to bully tactics only guarantees that China will continue to its threat campaign in disputes. If India does not grant Asylum, then the USA, Britain, Australia should offer asylum.
Tina Boyd, USA

It would not be wise for the Indian Government to grant asylum to His Holiness, considering the present circumstances. The government is put in a situation where it has to tread water again. The Foreign Ministry should work hard to impress upon other concerned countries, that are able to withstand the ire of the Chinese, to grant His Holiness asylum instead. The consequences of irritating the Chinese could be profound, because of their influences both within and outside India.
Sunil Mathews, US/India

By all means, give him asylum India. Everyone should have the right to live free.
Ari, USA

Galwa Kamapa has flown to India not to have fun or out of pleasure. It represents, how difficult it is to practice one's religion in Tibet and any were in China under the communist government of PRC.
The World is watching India, she should realise its potential and responsibility being the largest democracy of the world.
Tenzin Dawa, Tibet

Yes definitely India should grant asylum to the young lama, if such an official request is received. The young lama already showed his choice of place to learn Buddhism and study spirituality under the guidance of the Dalai Lama by travelling to India under difficult conditions.
I think it would be a very good deed on the part of the Chinese authorities and Indian political figures to stay out of religious matters and treat this case more decently by respecting the choice made by the 3rd most important lama.
Yogita, Canada

India should grant asylum to the 14 year old Karmapa Lama. At the same time it should make it clear to the Chinese government that India can't be held hostage on this issue. India should continue the diplomatic relations with China to tackle any fallout due to this decision.
Sreekanth R, USA



I don't see why a big, strong, and democratic India should bow to pressure from the govt. of China. India can make its own decisions.
Tenzin Sherab, USA
The 14-year-old lama has said he wish to stay in one of the monasteries in Dharamsala, close to H H The Dalai Lama. If this is karma pa's wish, yes India should grant him asylum. I don't see why a big, strong, and democratic India should bow to pressure from the govt. of China. India can make its own decisions. Thank you and Tashi Delek to all!
Tenzin Sherab, USA

Any decision should be taken only after considering economic & national security. After all stupid policies like "Those who want to stay can stay and those who want to leave can leave " have brought a great nation to a point of insecurity, unrest, poverty, terrorisim and hijacking, kargil, bomb explosion etc etc.
Ravindra Shinde, US/India

India should grant the Karmapa Lama asylum if asked. India has always been open to the different cultures of the world and should not bow down to a regional bully. Whether India grants him or not, China is going to supply India's arch rival with military equipment and continue its violation of human rights. So India might as well give asylum to him just as she has given the Dalai Lama.
Philip Jopzy, India

Caught between the devil and the fire. Suggest that they turn this problem over to the UN and see if he can be made a citizen of the world. Failing that check with the pope in Rome and see if he could be granted citizenship there!
Claude Marshall, USA

With due respect to Nic Groffman, keen observation about Sino-Indian relations, sweeping statements such as India does not have religious tolerance and at least million Muslims have been killed is absurd in the current context, more so using words like "this Karmapa fellow" reflects a narrow view about other people's faith. Buddhism originated from India and thousands of Tibetans are living in Dharamsala. Millions revere Karmapa and look up to him for future. He should be given asylum in India in the same way as thousands of other non violent Tibetans.
Vijay Ojha, UK

India is a land of Supreme positive energy. By allowing the great souls like his holiness Lama, into India is a spiritual asset to the nation.
Venkatesh, USA



Ideally, it would be very nice if India could grant the young 17th Karmapa asylum. However, this might be too dangerous for India.
Eric Pansegro, USA
Ideally, it would be very nice if India could grant the young 17th Karmapa asylum. However, this might be too dangerous for India (China is a REAL threat), and too dangerous for the Karmapa's family and followers back in Tibet! How about the USA, the United Kingdom or a country in western Europe offering him asylum? He has many followers in the west!!!
Eric Pansegro, USA (born in South Africa)

It would be shameful if the Indian government responded to the Karmapa Lama's arduous trek by refusing him asylum. Although Sino-Indian relations are indeed at stake here, one must realise that the bilateral relationship can only be successful if the Indian government conducts itself with a modicum of self-respect rather than kowtowing to every whim of an autocratic government.
Granting the Karmapa Lama asylum with benefit the BJP in two ways:
(1) It will be consistent with the BJP's much-hyped image of India as a "great" country (which, I might add, is blatantly untrue at the current time), and
(2) It will aid the BJP in its image-building exercise that seeks to erase its horrendous communalist past.
Reeshad Dalal, India

He represents hopes for millions and he has to have all the education and guidance that someday he will be bestowing to millions. It is obvious that Chinese Communists are not interested to give him all the training that makes him a good teacher. He must be offered asylum by India.
Pema, USA

India is a democracy whereas China is a repressive dictatorship. It stands to reason that the lama should be granted political asylum.
Miland Joshi, UK

Yes, India should grant asylum to the Karmapa Lama because the monks in Tibet are facing persecution from the Chinese. He should be allowed to be near the Dalai Lama for spiritual guidance and advice. The Karmapa Lama is only 14 years old and he shouldn't be used as leverage for better relations between India and China. The Chinese need to stop the persecution of religious leaders and the Tibetan people. Don't give in to this bully India because it may not stop with this incident.
Angie, Brit in USA

Should or Shouldn't. Is there a question to be answered here? In the past 5000 years we have allowed Muslims, Jews, Christians, Parsis, and have been home to Sikhs, Hindu's, Buddhist and Jains. Every one is free here, and has same rights as others. So why are we raising a question now.
Jee, India

Let's pause for a moment to think about what has happened here. After risking their lives and limbs, two of the most powerful religious icons of our time have finally joined forces at the dawn of the 21st century. Such a historic event is well beyond the machinations of governments, politicians, international borders, diplomatic relations and the media and may just be the answer to the prayers of thousands - millions of people of faith. [That Highest Authority.] India is morally, spiritually and ethically bound to granting him amnesty if he requests it. Tibet may yet be freed. Events are unfolding exactly as they should - don't you agree. How many of you naysayers would do this (really) for your people?
Dave McDonald, Canada

That isn't the issue. The issue is whether the world has the courage to stand up to China for what they did to Tibet in the 50's. The unfortunate answer to that is that nothing will ever be done due to the fear of angering China. The might of the Chinese may never stand up to the might of the rest of the world, but who wants to test that theory...
A Hall, UK



While it cannot afford to jeopardise its feeble relationship with China, giving reason for China to help Pakistan, India is morally forced to accord and grant asylum to the young Lama.
Nikolai Andreivich, Russian Federation
Definitely India faces a real diplomatic challenge. While it cannot afford to jeopardise its feeble relationship with China giving reason for china to help Pakistan, India is morally forced to accord and grant asylum to the young Lama whom many in India and abroad have come to respect. India has to take a huge risk but nevertheless accept the Lama as an official guest and treat him likewise.
Nikolai Andreivich, Russian Federation

I am in agreement with most people here that India should grant him asylum. However, I'm sure they're wary of supporting anything related to Tibet or it's legitimate drive for independence given its own suppression of the Kashmiri people. Still, it would be a step in the right direction for them to grant asylum to Karmapa Lama and would improve Indian relations with US and the West, perhaps at the slight expense of the Sino-Indian relationship.
Tariq Fanchy, Canada

In my opinion India should grant asylum for freedom of religion and beliefs.
Atul Shah, Kenya

Why should India care a damn about the Chinese reaction to granting asylum to the boy Lama? Don't we have any individuality at all?
Anil, USA

India should use this rare opportunity for its own benefit and negotiate hard with China. Dalai Lama and this boy are using India for their benefit, then why doesn't India do the same. India had failed to do this in the past and always landed in external policy mess. Why can't the West who is so vocal about Tibet call 100,000 refugees living in India to their own country.
Sanjay, USA



Realistically, India's position/past precedents hardly make as strong a case for granting asylum as some here would like to think.
Mona Shuja, USA
India has never had a history of religious tolerance - the Hindu nationalist BJP party and its ties with Shiv Sena show us that. That cannot be a basis for granting asylum, nor can be India's support in any way for the Tibetan (legitimate) drive for independence - because India is currently occupying Kashmir against the will of 90% of the people, and is too denying them the right to self-determination. So, realistically, India's position/past precedents hardly make as strong a case for granting asylum as some here would like to think.
Mona Shuja, USA

India is a nuclear power with a powerful military and should not be cowed by Chinese threats. India should stand up for what is right and should protect its friends from this repressive Chinese regime, which feels irrationally threatened by ordinary people, performing simple fitness exercises.
Indraneel Ghosh, USA

India should grant political asylum to the 17th Karmapa. This young lama made a courageous flight into freedom, and to be near his spiritual and temporal leader, the Dalai Lama. Karmapa, who has been recognised by Beijing as well as by the Dalai Lama, is not only a religious figure but political symbol as well. India's not allowing to raise Tibet in the UN after Chinese invasion in the middle of this century brought nothing but disaster for the people of India. By sacrificing Tibet New Delhi thought they could buy friendship of China. It is time India should stand tall, and raise the Tibetan issue. Until Tibet is freed India will never have peace.
C Tandhar, Israel

Let the boy do what he wants, he is young let him live his life the way he wants.
Ran, Canada

A consistently undervalued aspect of Indian statehood is its spiritual wealth and religious tolerance. The desire of the 17th Karmapa to seek teachings with the many great masters living in India will resonate strongly throughout the country. His further need to throw off the shackles of colonialism will be understood still more keenly. As such, to deny any request for political asylum would be for India to sell out short on what it has shown the world that it holds most dear. In short, fundamental Liberty.
Grenville White, Nepal

No, I believe that Karmapa Lama should not be granted asylum. I believe that the Tibetan Religious leaders have been taking advantage of India being nice. How can they free Tibet from India? How could Gandhi free India living in lets say Nepal or somewhere else? They want to fight for their freedom, they should at least live in their own native land. They can not and should not be the factor leading to a bad relation between India and China.
Himanshu, USA/ NEPAL

India does not have a great history of religious tolerance, and it is silly to argue otherwise. At least a million Muslims have also been killed there in the 20th century. But to insist that India grant asylum to this Karmapa fellow is to lose sight of some of the other issues. I have been one of many observers who has watched with hope as India and China, the two most populous countries in the world, have been tentatively normalising diplomatic relations throughout the 1990s. I don't want to see that thrown away by a political gesture. But I also don't want to see this heroic monk sent back to Tibet unless he actually wants to go back. At this stage, I hope that the Indian government does nothing. Certainly it shouldn't repatriate the Karmapa Lama, but it doesn't need to make any grand statements either. Anyway, it's possible that, having collected the Tibetan learning materials he and his monasteries need, he may wish to go back to Tibet, to his friends and family. The story of his escape is an exciting, heroic and inspiring one, but let's not get so inspired that we let the situation build into a disaster for Sino-Indian relations.
Nic Groffman, Shanghai (British)

The right thing for India is to grant asylum to the Lama and not to bow down to Chinese pressure. That way India will gain respect among other secular and democratic nations.
Sunil, USA

I am a hard-core BJP supporter picturing it as the party that stands for justice under any circumstances. As with the issue of Karmapa Lama, I believe India should grant him political asylum as the question here is building on to past policies. One, however, must understand that by letting the boy stay, India will be responding to China's pro-Pakistan policies and re-framing the meaning of peaceful coexistence. On the other hand, one should realise that the boy is in need of humanitarian help, and it is India's pioneering policies towards Tibet that have to surface.
Siddharth Raina, India

India due to its spiritual supremacy is morally duty bound to grant asylum to the boy lama. India should not be a slave to China under any circumstances.
Vijen, Australia

India is the only country in the world where the Jews were never persecuted and accepted them when they were persecuted all over the world. So were Zorostrians (from Iran). India accepted the Muslims, Christians. Going by past history India has the moral duty to grant asylum to the boy lama. Even if that mean hurting relations with neighboring China. The land of Buddha, Mother Teresa, Guru Nanak, Mahaveer, Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda has already accepted the Dalai Lama and established his government in Dharmasala, so it should also accept Karmapa Lama.
Vineet, USA

It is clear that the Karmapa has not been granted the freedom's assured by China at the time of his recognition and that India should afford him the same status as His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. After allowing well over 100 000 refugees from Tibet to settle in India, it would be irrational for the Indian government to start caving in to Chinese threats now. The Karmapa should be allowed to stay, he's previous re-incarnation was after all based in Sikkim.
Scott Brown, England

India should grant asylum to His Holiness Karmapa. His Holiness is a religious leader, not a political. That the PRC wants to make a political issue for their own purposes should not be a reason for the rest of the world to take this argument as their own. I believe also that China will never stop making claims. The next time it will be another event. If we always care first for what they could say, no other nation will make ever their own policy. India will get respect and sympathy not only from buddhist followers worldwide.
Silvia Brandmeier, Germany

It is of mutual benefit to India and Tibet, and the Buddhist world to grant asylum to Karmapa lama.
Sonam, USA

NO. Giving asylum to the 14 year old monk would result in deteriorating the relations between India and China. China, in turn, to take revenge would then fuel the Pakistani military with more missiles resulting in a never-to-end arms race. This arms race has to be stopped, and this is one sacrifice to be made.
Amit, USA / India

Yes, of course India should give him asylum. I have yet to understand how a country who has so many intelligent software engineers can't get 1 or 2 decent foreign affairs experts who would show that it's not only a humanitarian gesture, but will also be a boost to India's image. One stone... two birds!!!
Govind, USA

I think India should follow the morally right way of granting the asylum.
Suchin Gupta, US, but Indian

India should give asylum to Karmapa Lama. This young innocent man is an honest refugee in India. He is not a criminal or a terrorist to be handed over to China. Every soul on earth will wish this innocent boy is safe and well, not sent back to China to be hanged or locked-up in a dark cell for ever.
Marappa, U.K

Of course. He cannot be forced to go back to Tibet. While India needs to have better relations with China it should avoid making the wrong decision here. At the least, he has a right to go any country that is willing to take him.
S. Viswanthan, USA

Definitely grant asylum. Indians cannot and should not be pressured into making decisions to suit China's agenda. If that means disruption of India-China relations, so be it! What difference does it make? Indian-Chinese relations have remained static for years and will remain so irrespective of whether or not India grants asylum. What can China do? In the long run it cannot afford to make a neighbouring country of one billion people her enemy!!
Jawaid Quddus, U.S.A./India

India should grant the Karmapa Lama asylum for the simple reason that it is the only country that has the moral high ground on most issues.
Mayank Chhaya, USA

India has a moral obligation to give asylum or refuge or any other status for the young Lama to continue living in India. Capitulation to any Chinese demands will not only expose India as a soft state - but also hurt its dignity as a nation and as a democracy. I don't think India sells any cellphones to China, so what are they afraid of?
Parth Vasa USA/India

I think the Tibet nation has suffered for far too long without the world willing to do anything about it. Not only should India grant asylum to the Karmapa but it, the US and other free nations should get together and raise the issue of Tibet's independence strongly at the United Nations.
Anand Saraf, USA/India

I believe India should grant the Lama asylum if such a request is received. India should not heed to such a useless neighbour like China. China has been constantly supporting Pakistan and has been torturing the Tibetans since the past 40 years. India should firmly condemn the Chinese warning and grant asylum.
Parvez, India

Yes, India should grant asylum to him as it did in the past to other exiles. As long as India does not actively provide material assistance to the exile government, it should be viewed as a humanitarian decision, not an action against its neighbour.
Lewis Tan, USA

China has systematically occupied, bullied and subdued Tibet thereby sullying one of the most graceful, simple and beautiful peoples of the world. As a result of China's growing economic clout, governments everywhere are closing their eyes to what is a cultural holocaust launched by Beijing against the innocent peoples of Tibet. India is currently one of the few places where Tibetans have regrouped and started to express themselves again. India should consider herself privileged to be the home of the Dalai Lama and should grant residency to the boy lama at once. Chinese bullying is nothing new to the world and this is an excellent opportunity for New Delhi to grow a backbone following its recent spineless performance in the hijacking crisis.
Srinivas Rangaraj, Canada

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See also:
12 Jan 00 |  South Asia
India seeks diplomacy over Lama

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