Tenga (Arunachal Pradesh): As the Army shifts focus from the western borders with Pakistan to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, it has initiated a course in Tibetology for its young officers and men to enable them to have a better understanding of Tibetan history, culture, language and topography.
The course has been started as a pilot project on a voluntary basis, and the Army hopes to scale it up in the coming months to ensure that future decision-makers have an understanding of Tibetan culture and people.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the Army has tied up with the Central Institute of Himalayan Cultural Studies to enable its officers and men to undertake short courses of six weeks duration.
“This course helps our soldiers to understand the Tibetan language, culture, history and political situation. This will eventually empower them when they get deployed along the LAC,” a senior officer of the 4 Corps under the Eastern Command said.
The officer added that there are many things that one may find absolutely normal but might hurt the sentiments of the people of the region.
“We have always had a good relationship with the locals and the Tibetans living in India. A course like this helps us to bond better than before and to also understand the culture better,” a second officer said.
He added that the Army’s Training Command, ARTRAC, has identified seven institutes for Tibetology across the country, two of which are in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
While the first batch of 15 officers and five men undertook the course from March to June this year, the second batch will undertake the course starting November.
Army sources said that about 150 soldiers have undergone Tibetology courses in the country.
Plan to increase course duration
The Eastern Command has also moved a proposal to ARTRAC to extend the course to three months. The plan is also to have this course as one of the added factors for promotions and postings in the future.
As part of the course, the soldiers are taught by domain experts who are part of the institute ad they also visit monasteries and villages.
The Army has also tied up with the Monastery in Bomdila to ensure that Lamas proficient in Tibetan issues are also part of the teaching schedule.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)