Shillong: “For the last 55 years, India has been my home. But I have mostly been in western India. Shillong I’ve never been. Wonderful place, really very nice,” was what the prophet of non-violence had to say about the city.
“When the names of the graduates were mentioned, I noticed that they were very different (to those in mainland India). I think modern India is truly multi-cultural. It almost seems that India is something like the United Nations,” the Dalai Lama said, citing that as another way India can be an example to the rest of the world.
He pointed out that some “Chinese hardliners” feel that it is dangerous if Tibetans have their own language and culture. “We are not seeking separation from China for as far as economic development is concerned, remaining in China is in our interest. But our unique culture must be preserved. Tibet’s ecology must be preserved,” the Nobel laureate added.
He ended with another humorous comment: “I am very happy – first time I’m visiting Shillong and first day I got this degree.”
The Dalai Lama left the rostrum to a standing ovation and many of those in attendance waited outside to catch a parting glimpse of the honoured guest.
One of those who had been in attendance was Lapdiang Syiem, who said she took some time to make sense of the Dalai Lama’s speech.
“Initially, when he started talking about the Indian tradition and concept of ahimsa, I wondered how that could apply to a State like Meghalaya, which does not have the same connection with ancient India,” she said.
Having lived in New Delhi, Syiem said she found it difficult to relate to being an Indian and noted the recent alleged murder of Nido Taniam from Arunachal Pradesh as an example of alienation faced by North Easterners in Delhi.
“I kept asking myself how can we relate to being Indian. But after everything he said about coming to the east, with its different culture, and how that is what India is all about, then it made sense to me,” Syiem added.
Even as Meghalaya is limping to normalcy after the violence following the demand for Inner Line permit to check influx into the State, the Dalai Lama who is a living symbol of passive resistance against what the Chinese have done to the people of Tibet, dwelt extensively on the theme of non-violence at the Convocation function of Martin Luther Christian University (MLCU).