While the Dalai Lama was listed as one of the chief guests for the 105th edition of the Indian Science Congress (ISC) that begins in Manipur on Friday, he will not attend the event.
This comes weeks after the government sent a note asking senior leaders and government functionaries to stay away from events planned to mark 60 years in exile of the Dalai Lama. As reported by The Indian Express, the note underlined that this is a “very sensitive time” for bilateral relations with China.
Achyuta Samanta, general president of the Indian Science Congress Association, told PTI that the Dalai Lama had been invited to the conference, but said he would not be able to attend it. “We were also told that he had visited Manipur two months ago,” Samanta was quoted as saying.
The ISC’s website, however, still lists the Dalai Lama as one of the three Nobel laureates — Muhammad Yunus and Hiroshi Amano are the other two — who will participate as chief guests. This was also tweeted by Manipur University, which is the venue for the event.
A member of the ISC’s organising committee told The Indian Express that while the other two Nobel laureates would speak at special sessions over the weekend, the Dalai Lama was expected to participate in the inaugural session, along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other Union ministers.
“The inaugural session will begin at 10 am on Friday, and will be attended by over 5,000 people. The Prime Minister, HRD Minister and the Dalai Lama will participate,” said the organising committee member who did not want to be identified.
However, sources in the Tibetan government-in-exile said the Dalai Lama would remain in Dharamsala for the next five-six days and a visit to Manipur or anywhere else in the North-East was not in his itinerary.
“His Holiness is attending the 33rd Mind & Life Dialogue ‘Reimagining Human Flourishing’ at the Main Tibetan Temple in Dharamsala on March 12-16,” said Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, from the Dalai Lama’s office.
The ISC, organised by the Indian Science Congress Association each year, was scheduled to be held in Osmania University on January 3-7. But after the university expressed its inability to host the event due to “disturbances on its campus and other reasons”, it was postponed to March and the venue was shifted to Manipur University. — With PTI