India comes to aid of Mongolia as China ups ante after Dalai Lama
Mongolia has been in talks with the Chinese to get a $ 4.2 billion as an aid to pull out their economy from deep recession. Beijing has suspended the talks indefinitely and has imposed an increased tax on goods bound for Mongolia after Dalai Lama addressed Buddhist followers in a Monastery in Ulan Bator. Mongolia has asked New Delhi to take up the issue with China.
“As a close friend of Mongolia, which regards India as its ‘third neighbor’ and ‘spiritual neighbor’, we are ready to work with Mongolian people in this time of their difficulty,” the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Vikas Swarup said on Thursday. Nestled between two giant neighbors – China and Russia – Mongolia has evolved a concept of “third neighbors”, its friends in the West and the Asia that does not have geographical borders with it but are friendly in disposition.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Mongolia (a first by any Indian Prime Minister) in May 2015 and had announced a $ 1 billion credit line. The credit line is going to help Mongolia in obtaining investment and financial resources from their other partners. “We are closely working with the Mongolian government to implement the credit line in a manner that is deemed beneficial to the friendly people of Mongolia by its leadership. We are aware of the difficult budgetary situation that Mongolia is facing due to various factors including high cost of servicing of debt raised by them in the past,” Swarup added.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Mongolia had a significant message to its neighbor China that its forays into South Asia would not go unanswered. Mongolia and India have strong Buddhist linkages.
In fact, India is credited with reviving Buddhism in the country as it sent Kushak Bakula, a Buddhist monk, as ambassador to the country in the 1990s. Mongolians follow Mahayan school of Buddhism as the population in Ladakh.
Bakula took Buddhist scriptures to Mongolia, set up a school for Buddhism in the country and sent new Monks to India to study Buddhism.
Now India is proactively seeking to reclaim its Buddhist legacy from China and Dalai Lama form an important element of it. Recently the Government has announced Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, a move that is definitely going to evoke a sharp response from China.