Jan. 4 (The Tribune/by Shyam Saran): Recently, I was in Taipei to speak on India’s perspective on the rise of China, one giant eyeing the other. There was a question from a Taiwanese official about the Dalai Lama. He asked for India’s advice on how to treat the “big headache” that His Holiness had become for the Taiwanese authorities, because he had many devotees in Taiwan but the government did not wish to annoy China by allowing him to visit Taiwan.
I said that India did not regard the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan community in India as a headache. His Holiness was a highly respected spiritual leader and teacher. Again there was a wave of approval from the audience.
There was another question relating to India’s GDP growth rate compared to that of China. I said we did not believe people in India would accept the Chinese brand of political authoritarianism combined with economic liberalism. My sense was, I said, that Indians would happily sacrifice a couple of percentage points in GDP growth if this were the price to pay to retain their hard-won democratic freedoms and individual rights.
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