Tibet: The Panikkar Factor
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Issue Book Excerpt: Tibet - The Lost Frontier | Date : 04 Mar , 2011


  1. Earlier, K.P.S. Menon was posted in Chungqing, then in Nanjing as the Agent-General for British India.
  2. Letter from Sardar Patel to Nehru dated 7 November 1950.
  3. When China goes Communist, a report by K.M. Panikkar.
  4. More or less corresponding to what is today the ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’ or Central Tibet.
  5. The regions of Kham and Amdo which had been amalgamated in neighbouring Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai.
  6. In the 60’s, the Chinese further divided Kham into different counties and prefectures and attached these areas to the provinces of Yunnan, Gansu and Sichuan.
  7. Mao had similar a similar vision of federal China, but changed his view after coming to power. But 1936 he had told Edgar Snow: “When the People’s Revolution has been victorious in China, the outer Mongolian republic will automatically become part of the Chinese federation, at its own will. The Mohammedan [Xinjiang] and the Tibetan peoples, likewise, will form autonomous republics attached to the China federation. The unequal treatment of national minorities, as practised by the Kuomintang can have no part in the Chinese programme, nor can it be part of the program of any democratic republic.” Snow, op. cit. p. 505.
  8. Bajpai was the immediate boss of Panikkar, but obviously Panikkar had a direct access to the Prime Minister (who was also Foreign Minister).
  9. Quoted in Gopal. Dr. S., Jawaharlal Nehru – a Biography (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1979), p. 107.
  10. Emphasis in the Report.
  11. USFR, Telegram 330/11-3050 dated November 30, 1950. The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State.
  12. Who was also holding the External Affairs portfolio.
  13. The same sad story occurred in the early sixties when a Corps Commander could send letters directly to the Prime Minister, by-passing his immediate superiors in the Army. In both cases, India was lead to commit colossal blunders.
  14. In fact the only great empire in Indian history, was at the time of the Buddhist emperor Asoka, but it was a cultural empire rather than a military one.
  15. Panikkar, K.M., In Two Chinas (London: Allen & Unwin, 1955), p. 15.
  16. Panikkar, op. cit., p. 72.
  17. They would be removed after a few months by the Communists.
  18. Frank Moraes, Report on Mao’s China (New York: Mac Millan, 1953), p. 18.
  19. Panikkar, op. cit., p. 79.
  20. Panikkar, op. cit., p. 77.
  21. Panikkar, op. cit., p. 81.
  22. In 1954, Mao told the Dalai Lama in Beijing that all these religious beliefs were ‘poisonous’.
  23. Panikkar, Ibid.
  24. One long term member of the Indian Parliament who had been closely associated with China in the 50’s confided that Panikkar was ‘bribed’ by the Chinese through tête-à-tête dinners with Chinese officials, many other facilities and good treatment offered to him by the Communist regime. Although this information could not be verified, C.P.N. Singh, the Indian Ambassador to Nepal in 1950, had more or less the same opinion of Panikkar.
  25. On 27 October, Panikkar telegraphed that the “official release issued on the 25th afternoon contained merely the news of the official orders to the army to advance into Tibet first heard over All India Radio on the 25th morning.”
  26. SWJN, Series II, Vol. 15 (2), p. 349. Cable from Nehru to Panikkar dated 20 November 1950.
  27. Panikkar did not even want to issue a rectification for the ‘oversight’. He felt that it would not serve any purpose.
  28. Quoted in The Tibetan Review, March 1988, p. 7.
  29. Prof. Ranga, an Indian MP raised the Tibetan issue several times in the Lok Sabha, requesting the Government of India to take a firm stand.
  30. In 1950.
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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Claude Arpi

Writes regularly on Tibet, China, India and Indo-French relations. He is the author of 1962 and the McMahon Line Saga, Tibet: The Lost Frontier and Dharamshala and Beijing: the negotiations that never were.

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