Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday supported plea to award Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, to Nobel Laureate and Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who was presented Noble Peace Prize 30 years ago in 1989.
Reacting over former governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi’s write-up – “Bharat Ki Jarurat Hain Dalai Lama” (The Dalai Lama- A necessity for India) in a Hindi daily, Nitish said that he agreed with Gandhi. He said that “the precious principles of love, non-violence, brotherhood and world peace make India an unparalleled country. The Dalai Lama’s presence as ideological guide is very important.”
“We happily conferred Bharat Ratna to Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. What is the fault of the Dalai Lama that he has been deprived of this highest civilian honour? In this, it is our loss, not his,” Gopalkrishna, who is grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, lamented in his article.
Gandhi, also reminded, “Wherever the Dalai Lama goes, world see a form of Lord Buddha in him. Only we don’t see the Buddha in him.”
The demand to confer a Bharat Ratna on the temporal head of Tibetan people is a long standing one.
Former Union Minister and BJP MP Shanta Kumar has, on many occasions, urged the central government to honour the Nobel Peace Prize winner with Bharat Ratna.
Another BJP MP Ramswaroop Sharma from Himachal Pradesh had also demanded the Government of India to honour the spiritual leader describing the Dalai Lama as a beacon of grace and humility.
In 2017, Lhundup Chosang – the Rashtriya Syawamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader in Arunachal Pradesh had even launched a campaign for awarding India’s highest civilian honour to the Dalai Lama when the monk was scheduled to visit Tawang in Arunachal amid a huge India-China spat, with Beijing extremely upset that he was visiting what they call “disputed territory.”
The 14th Dalai Lama – who is revered as a living god by millions of Buddhists around the world – has made India his home and often describes himself as “the son of India.”
The Dalai Lama usually spends several months a year traveling the world to teach Buddhism and highlight Tibetans’ struggle for greater freedom in China. But he has cut down on travel in the past year in order to take care of his health.
China doesn’t recognize the Tibetan government-in-exile and accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to separate Tibet from China.
The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he merely advocates for substantial autonomy and protection of the region’s native Buddhist culture.