Thursday, December 3, 2009

Indo-Tibetan Friendship: A Relic Of History

( Picture courtesy: RTYC Delhi website)
A friendship that outlasts time and holds its ground when trouble comes forth, is one that is hard to be witnessed these days. Tales of sacrifice and mortal risks taken for the sake of friendship is now more or less a content for lore.

With nations rising out of the complexities of our era and societies driven with the sole purpose of self-interest, true friendship is a thing of past.

A couple of months back, we commemorated an event "Thank You India", displaying our gratitude for the hospitality of our Indian friends. An event, that in Dharamsala, the center of all that is Tibetan, a place referred by many as "Little Lhasa", turned out to be a no event at all, at least for me. Except one sole local Indian MLA or official of some sort, the usual dignitaries of Dharamsala, meaning the Tibetan MPs and a few Kashag ministers were the main guests. The crowd was all Tibetan and the vagabound foreigners as usual. No sign of any local Indians or the local community of Indians around Dharamsala.

We sang and danced to ourselves, celebrated an event marked to thank India, a bit too much among ourselves. The event was held at "The Temple" close to where His Holiness resides. Outside it, the Indians were as indifferent to it as they are usually to the countless candle light vigils they are so used to witnessing. The subtle displeasure and discomfort between the local Tibetans and Indians appeared no less than it was the previous day. This made me wonder, are we really thanking a country and its people who gave us refuge or we are just doing it for maintaining the usual hollow pleasantry. Since i was in Dharamsala at the time, I didn't see any open invitation flying out to the local Indian community, i didn't recall anyone waving a casual "Thank You India" to a local Indian. What was this all about? What are we missing in the dynamics of Indo- Tibetan Friendship? Has it really turned out to be a relic of history, we are so used to thanking and praying about?

It has been over 50 years when we first entered India. Despite having successfully established monasteries, settlements, schools and a functioning government in exile, we haven't been able to integrate well neither culturally nor economically with the local Indians. Tibetans still fail to take advantage of the economic boom the subcontinent had been having for more than a decade now.

Politically, the support for the cause of Tibet from the Indian government had been taking a downward toll for now many years. It was in fact never strong to begin with since the time of Pandit Nehru, and yet it could never grow in the prevailing geopolitical and economic reality of the time, with China turning into a global power. However, what many, especially Tibetans, fail to acknowledge, is our failure in creating a strong consensus among the Indian populace for supporting the cause of Tibet.

We Tibetans have continually maintained the hereditary affliction of "Isolation" even while we were raising the next Tibetan generation in India. I was born in India, and never have I seen community interaction between Tibetans and Indians, go beyond, sweater selling.

Tibetans never tried to take advantage of the industrial boom in India's services sector, production and manufacturing fields and many more.

Except a few dilly dollying projects by the Tibetan government in exile, I hardly witnessed any initiative that could have made the Tibetan community in India a strong economic faction. Even initiatives of social interaction and integration between Tibetans and Indians carried out by the TGI were either sporadic or rare.

All this, in my opinion has also played a major role in dwindling political support by the Indian government. The bottom line is, we didn't do our part either to be recognised as something important and significant. And all this is not the job of His Holiness, but the job of our elected government, which of course has its limitations but nothing could have barred it from taking aforesaid initiatives.

So the hulla-bullu about an Indian leader recognising Tibet as a part of China is meaningless and trifle. India recognised tibet as a part of china since the 50's. What is more important is to notice that we Tibetans miserably failed in changing that stance of the Indian government. Without having tried the possibilities we cannot judge the outcome of its impact.

Personally, what i would like to see, would be the building of consensus among the general Indian populace for more support for Tibet, and these are not only the people who come so often on television news panels or academic discussion, but the populace that votes. We are in fact foolish to pin all our hopes on the US for political leverage. A strong support from India, will make the Chinese think. These are two nations bordering each other with a lot of issues, disputes and mutual interests at stake. I would even go to an extent of saying that, perhaps the political relationship between India-China is far more balanced than the one sided 700 billion dollar credit relationship between US and China.

Indo-Tibetan friendship could go beyond just becoming "A Relic Of History" and the responsibility to do that mostly lies on us.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Star Wars: Tribal Ewoks offering Tibetan prayer to C3PO

Being an insufferably die-hard fan of the star wars series, I just felt like putting this on my blog. The ewok praying in Tibetan before they ultimately aid the alliance in defeating the dark empire. Surprisingly, George Lucas was inspired by many of the Buddhist principals while characterizing a Jedi. May the force be with us all.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Meeting Wang Lixiong

This weekend went superbly well. I had the opportunity of meeting one of the foremost Chinese writer and political commentator on Tibet, Wang Lixiong.

We were able to invite him for a dinner and an informal meeting. It was at Lobsang Wangyal's studio. Lobsang was kind enough to be the host for the gathering. Our goal for the meeting was actually different then many other similar meetings.

The idea was to tell him more about exile then to ask him about China or Tibet. We wanted to make him familiar with the realities in exile.

Lobsang Wangyal was kind enough to present various aspects of exile life through different examples. Wang Lixiong seemed extremely interested in "Miss Tibet Pageant" and "Tibetan Olympics". He expressed his happiness in seeing how different individuals are trying to do new things.

We had earlier heard rumours that some Tibetan guy banged his fist on the table and left the meeting on one such meeting with Wang Lixiong in Dharamsala. I thought it was just a rumour, but we came to know that it actually happened. Whatever, this guy's reasons were, I think, it was not a nice thing to do. His Holiness the Dalai lama has always stressed upon the need for dialogue with common Chinese people. Banging our fists on the table would only harm this cause. It made me sad, as well as embarrassed. Therefore, we made sure that we present to him a positive side of the Tibetan people and its culture. Making sure that we are not in anyway disrespectful or unreasonable.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dalai Lama For Tibetan Youth

In the history of revolution and struggle for freedom, the role of youth has always been prominent. Youth and change are two words that always go along. Such is the power of youth, of initiative and of the desire to move forward.

Youth movement saw its emergence in various forms throughout history and made enormous changes in how we look at history now.

Movements like Hippies, Punks, SNCC, SDS, American Youth Congress, Communist Youth and even Hitler Youth, played significant roles in the past. You can click on the links to read more about these youth movements.

Having a leader of the stature of the Dalai Lama, with a wisdom beyond doubt and a character above par, is an enormous responsibility.

Movements in history have witnessed how leaders in different periods of time realised the importance the power of youth and channeled it in different ways. It is high time, that His Holiness reaches out to the Tibetan Youth in a more extensive and intensive manner.

A straight one-on-one dialogue with the Dalai lama for the Tibetan youths must be organised where all kinds of views can be put forward and not just some censored questions. It is of utmost importance, that the actual voice of youth and not interpreted or mediated views, reach the Dalai Lama. Of course, his holiness is an extremely busy persona, and yet one cannot deny how significant it is for him to have a straight discussion with the Tibetan Youth. Afterall he is the leader of Tibetan people and the fate of Tibet lies in the hands of the future generation.

As a youth I feel it is the need of the hour that the Tibetan youths get an actual chance of dialogue with His Holiness.

He is a leader and a persona in the Tibetan History unlike ever before. Tibetan youths I am sure will be more than eager to have a dialogue with him. Such a gathering should not end up being a short sermon of religious teachings but rather become a platform of discussion. Many Tibetan youths, including myself, have so much to express, so much to tell, so much to thank him for.

An annual seven day consortium of youth representatives from all Universities with Tibetan students, young Tibetans who are working in various cities as well as the exile government must be held.

Such an enclave might in some ways prove to be much more useful and insightful than the so called "Special Meeting" held last year.

I will write to the office of The Dalai Lama requesting such an event to be organised in any near future.

Tibetan youths want His Holiness and we want him to guide us, to listen to us, to advise us and understand us. We want to have a direct contact with him without the usual censoring of questions and the limitations of traditional etiquette protocols.

Once such an enclave materialises, the Tibetan youths will be in a far more better position not only to convey their support for His Holiness, but also to express their views and grievances.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jeremy Brett's Portrayal of Sherlock Holmes

To Sherlock fans Jeremy Brett represented the quintessential representation of a character that has dominated the literature of detective stories. His perfect adoption of the role, from mannerisms to the intensity of Sherlock's character, leaves an unforgettable impression on those who watch him act.

I was a Sherlockian way back from my Junior school. Having read all of Sir Conan Doyle's stories over and over again, Sherlock Holmes is one such character that has seeped into my consciousness to a great extent.

To see Jeremy Brett portray this mammoth of a character was amazing.Its surprising that the image of Holmes I had built in my mind, came all alive when i watched the first episode "A Scandal in Bohemia", of the renowned series run by Granada Television. Then on I have always craved for more of Jeremy Brett playing holmes. What further fascinated me, was how the character of Sherlock Holmes affected the later life of this method actor. How he became obsessed and aloof like Holmes. And finally his sad demise due to manic depression. How a fictional character could affect a living person to such an extent is beyond my imagination.

I pay my tribute to this great actor. His role as Sherlock Holmes will forever remain imbibed in my memory of the legendary sleuth.

The best ever portrayal of Sherlock Holmes by british actor Jeremy Brett. To know more about Sherlock Holmes click here.

To learn more about Jeremy Brett go here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

No Quick Fixes For Tibet

We Tibetans have been for so long and are still insufferably diseased from a condition of "Extreme Optimism". Not that Optimism to any extent is a bad thing, but in our case, it seems to have become an excuse for passivity and irrational complacency.

Perhaps this optimism in our struggle to return back soon to our homeland is more or less the reflection of the unflinching faith we have in His Holiness the Dalai lama. And yet we fail to see that even his optimism for the fate of Tibet is balanced by actions which are futuristic and visionary. Despite the majority of Tibetan's belief even right after 1959, that we will soon return back, The Dalai Lama had the vision to start working on establishing schools, settlements, monasteries and a functioning government in exile, just in case.

What is sad now, is the fact that majority of the Tibetans in exile are still illusioned with the same idea that we will soon go back to Tibet. What is sadder, is another fact that many of the policies initiated by the exile government, in terms of education, employment, governance etc are all centred around this very idea of temporary stay in India. And this is doing some serious, serious damage.

Any policy followed to resolve the issue of Tibet, must not just be optimistics, promising and pretty at face but should also be balanced by checks that foresee even the worst of the scenarios when it comes to failures.The plain fact I am implying here is that we must have a back up plan.

What must seep into the hearts and minds of our policy makers, is the plain realisation of how China is becoming stronger day by day, how it is accumulating resources all across the globe, how the reaches of its soft power overwhelm even a nation as great as the United states and how it has successfully gained an edge in the the geopolitics of nations. Acceptance of this fact, should be sufficient enough to make them realise that any solution for Tibet if ever happens in the nearby future, will be on the terms of the Chinese. Just as plain and as simple as that. Now, this doesn't mean that we should give up and surrender our efforts in achieving our goals that run almost contrary to what the Chinese want. All it means, is to brace ourseleves for a longer period of struggle ahead, things change with time of course, but things don't change at a pace we Tibetans expect it to.

The smarter thing to do, the wiser thing to do and the most pragmatic thing to do, is to prepare ourselves for the coming future.

At the end of last year's Special Meeting, one of the remarks of His Holiness was the following," The beginning 20 years in exile, we all Tibetans were the same, had the same problems, dwelt and struggled in the same condition and improved our lives. For the last 30 years, i have seen a regression in all aspects of our exile life, there had been a lot of carelessness. If for the coming 20 years we still continue this way, then i don't see any hope for us." These were his clear words, surprisingly edited in many of the Tibetan news media. You can view the video of this remark below (listen carefully to the beginning of the speech).

What is clear here is the fact that even His Holiness is not exactly satisfied with what we have done and we are doing. Therefore, it is imperative that we must have a recourse that not only takes the cause of Tibet ahead but at the same time sustains it.

We have some serious issues on our hands which very few people seem to take notice of.

What after the Dalai lama?

Even though it is considered inauspicious to discuss about the death of the Dalai Lama while he is still present, yet we must break out of these traditional way of thinking that has shackled, otherwise many a great ideas.

I am sure that even His Holiness will want the Tibetans and policy makers to always think in a pragmatic, practical and prudent manner.

The implications of a situation where there is no Dalai Lama is extensive and precariously serious. More so for people who actually understand the mechanics of social fabric in exile. How dependent even the exile government is on His Holiness. How small things as permissions and licenses for all sorts of business TIbetans do will be affected? How the outlook of the Indian government and its current policy on dealing with Tibetan exiles will change when there is no Dalai Lama? All this and many other aspects of exile life will be deeply affected.

Of course then there is the whole bigger question of the issue of Tibet, the dialogue with Chinese and so on. How the interest of the world will change when there is no Dalai Lama? What will such a situation do to all those interested in the fate of Tibet? These are some really serious questions.

My projections might be just that, and yet its something that all my sense of reasoning tells me to be inevitable and imminent.Under such circumstances, why not then there are efforts in preparing the grounds for a future exile that still remains productive and improvises on the premises already established by His Holiness. We must start thinking for ourselves and shoulder many of the responsibilities of The Dalai Lama, it is our solemn duty and we owe it to His Holiness.

The Way Ahead

All I am trying to say here is that it is highly improbable that a solution for Tibet will be achieved in the nearby future. And I hope we have stopped believing in miracles the day Chinese forces started shelling the holy walls of the Potala.

What we must do now, is as simple as an old english proverb which i often repeat. "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst."

Now I must congratulate myself and fellow Tibetans in having deeply imbibed in us the quality of Hope, of Optimism. But now, its also the time to set ourselves ready and well prepared for the coming years in future.

The fate of Tibetans in exile will lie in the hands of the Tibetan government in exile once His Holiness is not there. The future of Tibetans in exile will be decided by the cumulative policies followed and implemented by the Tibetan government in exile. Under such distinct reality, it is of utmost importance that not just the people at the helm of leading the Tibetan government in exile, but also the structure in which it functions, is top notch and with least defects.

The need of a leader who will be able to shoulder the responsibilties of His Holiness in the most efficient manner is significant. You can read about it in my piece "here".

The structural changes, for example, reforms in the current electoral system in exile is a must for a more relevent future. Details of which come across in this piece"here".

It will be only with our resourcefulness and ingenuity of thought and actions, that the community of Tibetans in exile will not just thrive in numbers, but also flourish and become stronger and more effective. Our integration into the global community at every level is a must. Thats how the Jews did it, and I see no reason why Tibetans can't do that.

The only thing that will prompt us into this direction, is the realisation that, there will be "No Quick Fixes For Tibet"

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Next Prime Minister For Tibet:2011 Elections

50 years have passed since Tibetans have been driven out of their own land and 50 years have passed since they have established a life in exile. The current geopolitics of the world clearly show that it will probably be another 50 years or more before they could actually hope to leave this perceived makeshift place of refuge in India.

Over the years, His Holiness the Dalai lama has marvelously shouldered the responsibility of a whole nation. Not only did he sustain and strengthen the cause of a nation, but has also been instrumental in establishing and steering the future course of Tibet in a proper direction.His dedication and efforts in keeping alive the cause of and its people needs no questioning and will always remain above par. However, we must not forget that all his efforts whether its establishing a working government in exile, a template of democratic parliament and the election of a Prime Minister by direct vote of Tibetans in exile has been directed at one supreme goal, and that goal is making the Tibetan Movement "A movement of common Tibetans" and not just an individual.

What becomes essential now, is not only to acknowledge this goal of His Holiness but to actually work towards fulfilling his wishes.

The Kalon Tripa(Prime Minister) elections of 2011 is one such duty, that we need to complete with full responsibility.

This election should not just end up being about electing an administrator to run the day to day activities of the exile government, but should be more about electing a persona who will not only share and shoulder the responsibilites of His Holiness, but who is also able to steer the course of future Tibet on his own too.

What After The Dalai Lama?

Personally, it is my opinion that the election of Kalon Tripa 2011 should also become a center point of discussion about a strategy post the Dalai Lama.The new Kalon Tripa's responsibilities should not just end at overlooking the exile administration. It has to be made sure that whoever is elected as the next Kalon Tripa has the vision as well as the ability to represent the cause of Tibet at the global stage.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Second Tibetan Demographic Survey!

My first feelings when I saw the announcement for the second demographic survey was of relief and excitement. Over the years, I had been constantly talking about and nagging around people for the need of such an extensive survey. I tried in many of my write ups, to emphasise on the need for an extensive data on various social variables.

First there was an education survey initiated a couple of months back on the advise of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Which I was very happy to hear about but also very critical to those who didn't think of doing it until His Holiness told them to do so. You can read about it here "Give His Holiness a break, for god's sake".

Anyhow, when I saw the forms for this demographic survey, to be honest, I was quite content. It is perhaps the most extensive survey done in Tibetan exile society. Variables like education, literacy, gender etc. etc. all are given well thought in it. I heard the Indian government helped the Tibetan government to plan such a huge survey. The first demographic survey done in exile around 98 or 99 wasn't that extensive.

What disturbed me was the manner in which this important survey was executed. I saw school children knocking at various people's door and getting the forms filled, especially in Dharamsala. The word was also around that there were many mistakes and repetitions in many of the forms filled in dharamsala. It is sad to know that why there was not much investment done on it to be able to hire professionals to do the job, or at least college graduates? Why was it all rushed up?

I just hope the results of this survey are accurate to a good extent and help our Tibetan government in exile in formulating their various plans.

Though I have doubts about how efficiently and effectively the data of this survey's result will be used in a professional manner when it comes to planning all kinds of social and exile strategies.

My finger's are crossed. And I hope the concerned people really don't screw it up and use the results of this survey in drafting there plans and not just keep it in a pile of files.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dharamsala and Its Different Colors

With a desire for a new experience and ample time to spare, I came to Dharamsala. Its a small hill station, a little town sprawled across lush green hills and majestic mountains at the back. Many consider It as one of the most popular tourist haunts in Himachal Pradesh (a small state in India).

Apart from its natural beauty and pleasant weather, Dharamsala is known as the seat of His Holiness the Dalai lama, the Tibetan government in exile and most of the organisations working for Tibet are situated here. Its a small town bursting with energy and enthusiasm. Some people have even called it "Little Lhasa",an assortment of all things Tibetan, its culture, religion, people and everything else.

Being an avid critic and a cynic of many of the aspects of life in exile, it was going to be an adventurous experience for me. I came with an open mind, washed away all my prejudiced opinions, decided to approach all that is in Dharamsala with an unbiased and yet critical viewpoint. What followed was an experience that was both sad, heart wrenching and also hopeful and optimistic. You can say it was a mixed experience, with many things learnt and many un-learnt..hahahha.. My expereince is here for anyone who wants to know something about Dharamsala, other than the obvious things one comes to hear about the place. Read on!!!!!

Dharamsala was one place which i viewed with utmost respect and admiration for one thing that it had, and that was His Holiness the Dalai lama.

Surprisingly, it is the one place I also looked with disdain and annoyance when it came to the workings of various bureaucratic institutions and in still being the seat of the older conservative ideology of Tibet.

It was also a place i believed to be the habitat of many afflicted with "The Kudag Syndrome" ( a perceived manner of behaviour much alike the past aristocratic families of Tibet responsible for much of its past and present problems) still holding on to offices of power, and ultimately, to many outsider's disbelief, striving continuously to take Tibetan Society way back to where it was before His Holiness bestowed upon us the gift of democracy.

This place brought me close to many of the realities of Tibetan Society which somehow I was quite out of touch with.

Individuals Change society single-handedly:

Now this might not be agreeable for many and I was never a follower of this idea. But what I saw in Dharamsala myself, surprisingly proved the above theory absolutely and absolutely correct, especially when it came to the dynamics of the Tibetan Society in exile.

One person I knew and probably the whole world knows now is "Lobsang Wangyal". A deceivingly casual, easy going individual, who, in his pink shirts and tight 70s trousers has taken a huge responsibility of stirring up the Tibetan society from passivity to creative action. Other than the well known, "Miss Tibet","Tibetan Olympics" and many more of his initiatives what was noticeable was his fearless committment towards bringing social change in his own ways.

His website

What was hateful and annoying to me, was the attitude with which many of the old school Tibetans still shied away from recognising this one man's contribution in paving the way for a contemporary, modern and aware Tibetan exile society.

Another individual who has taken a lot on his shoulders, and perhaps too much, is Tenzin Tsundue. But it seems nothing is too much for this Tiger of a man.

From the cause of Free Tibet, to contemporaray literary awakening initiatives, to social reforms in varied aspects, this one man army has proven his metal.

There are many who still talk narrow, and comment on the right of an individual to do something for one's own country or society. There are still many who misinterpret intentionally, the motivation of this man to shake Tibetan society. To those I say, SHUT THE *U*K UP.

And again recognition for this man's effort comes much more from outside then from the Inside of the old Tibetan society. Youths I am sure support him with his ideas.

This man could assemble more crowd, which is essential sometimes, then man organisations combined. Now is that bad for Tibetans, not at all.

A lone monk for compassion:

This was something I missed. I heard from a friend of mine that there is a monk who is working for the betterment of the under privileged Indians in Dharamsala. His name is Jamyang or Guruji as many call him. I heard his organisation is helping children of these people go to school, he is helping them with their clothes and many other things. This is the organisation's website

I really wanted to visit this person, who truly follows what His Holiness teaches in terms of Universal Compassion. And not just uses His Holiness name for one's own ends, but didn't get the time to meet him.

Still A Shangrilla For Many:

Sometime back I met a group of students from america, who had come to Dharamsala to study the life in exile, Tibetan culture, religion etc etc.

What followed next was casual gatherings, two parties and some serious talks. Other then what they learn t from us, there were a few things which were actually enlightening to me.

On being asked, what were there expectations about Tibet and Tibetans before they came and what were the surprises you experienced during you whole journey. The answer more or less was more surprises then expectations met.

This clearly brings into picture, how still the majority of the west, how still the hoarding crowds of foreigners behind Free Tibet banners, view Tibet and Tibetans as a pristine product of an untouched civilisation. This is particularly very dangerous for Tibetans. What I believe is needed for all of us Tibetans is to always present a balanced picture of how we Tibetans in exile are.

Taking advantage of the impressions of His Holiness the Dalai Lama on foreign countries, to our own individual benefits is not a good thing for us.

And many people who do this, are still the same people suffering from the old school " Kudag Syndrome".

I told them what I had to tell, what was wrong in our society like any other, and what was still good and unique in being a Tibetan.

Towards the end of my stay in Dharamsala:

This young group of people, many of whom were surprisingly so aware, so conscious of all that was wrong and misleading in Tibetan Socoety was one of the very encouraging experiences of my stay in Dharamsala.

I knew a guy from my school and who was also working in Dharamsala. He has initiated a street cum theatre play titled "I want to be Kalon Tripa" ( which means I want to be the prime minister). It was in its initial stages of scripting while I write this blog, but will probably be on show by the end of this month. A very significant effort, in shaking up the Tibetan youth and making the Tibetan society aware about the importance of the coming 2011 elections.

It was during one of these nights when he had invited me during a planery session for the play. The most essential elements of the dicussion came into light, when we talked about the duties of the tibetan youth in exile life and how it was important that we stir up. What also came out into open was the problems and the technicalities of Tibetan politics that essentially makes it improbable for a popular Tibetan youth to become a member of the parliament and ultimately be involved in actual decision making when it came to passing legislations.

This is mostly resultant of the regional electoral system based on three Tibetan provinces of Tibet. But what i feel is mostly needed, is not only keep the current electoral system but why not let independent candidates representing particular settlements, communities, cities where Tibetan youths are concentrated due to college and work get the chance to stand up in election. This i believe will definitely lead to more newer and well educated faces to come up when it comes to our "Assembly of Tibetan Parliamentary Deputies". Thus leading to more informed legislations taking place and as a result betters policies for the CTA to execute.

Such an effort by a group of young Tibetans in the form of play " I want to be the next Kalon Tripa" that too in Dharamsala, really made my day. Now its the time for those ailing from conservatism and older ideology, to quickly recover from their affliction of "The Kudag Syndrome" and ease the way for Tibetan Youths to come into picture.

I am filled with hope and anticipation for future. I leave Dharamsala with a renewed heart and a motivated self. And when I return, it will be with more tools and weapons of change.

When that time comes, I will be back. :)

( Pictures courtesy of Lobsang Wangyal)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Comics,Cartoons and Growing up

In the course of life, in its bustling crowds and busy schedules, many of us have forgotten the child inside us. Many of us have absorbed ourselves in defining practicality, and in our search for the significant and orderly, we have forsaken the meaningless and the insignificant. Everything has to have a reason now, a purpose, a value, a return of profits etc. As we grow and reach a stage where we call ourselves adults, all that is symbolic of childhood,of youth,of innocence becomes stereotypically trivial and immature. But is that really necessary for being an adult?

I have crossed the line where i could call myself a child or even a teenager but just short of being called an Old man..hahah!! And yet I have always tried to safeguard and nourish those traits of a child, of youth, of innocence, of marvel and surprise at anything new I see, of pleasure at the most simple things in life and the desire to discover.

One thing out of the many other, that still keeps the child inside me alive, Is my love for cartoons and comics. Now believe me am not a total freak fan of comics, but I do like them and they are among one of the many interests I have.

My liking for cartoons started with "He-man", something that caught my attention as a young child. The battles between "Skelator", arch rival of "He-man", the dual personality of He-man where he is an innocent, scared common man and at the same time has the power to become one of the strongest man in the Universe with a sword that could do magical things. It was a magical time for me. Growing up, Jungle book by Rudyard Kipling was televised as a cartoon series on the Indian national channel. It was wonderful, beautiful and every sunday I would and so like other millions of kids would sit in front of the TV and get absorbed in the story of "Mowgli", the hero of the story. His adventures in the Jungle, his dual with "Sher Khan", his escapades and his romance with a human girl from a village all that just fascinated me. Then of course later came Superman,Spiderman,Batman and other superheroes...hahahha!!

Tom and Jerry needs no mention as this is an one everlasting series that no body can just ignore. I still watch it and somehow still end up laughing at the various stints between these two loveable characters. "Ben 10" is quite fun I realised, as I recently tried a couple of episodes.

The interest in comic books first started from Indian comics.I would gorge dozens and dozens of Hindi comic books and would anxiously wait if there is a continued story in the next edition of a comics book.

"Nagraj","Super Commando Dhruv","Parmanu" etc were all creations that completely blew my mind off. Raj comics was the company behind such great characters and to my surprise, these comic characters are still out there, kicking asses of the bad guys.

"Bankelal","Chacha Chaudhary" etc were creations of Diamond comics and were on the humorous side. I had hundreds and hundreds of these comics. My hindi went over the top by the time I was in my 9th grade, and we were not even taught Hindi anymore at Tibetan school, Its a pity such a beautiful language is less exposed in our schools.

Recently, I had a revival of interest in my child hood superheroes especially "Nagraj" and " Super Commando Dhruv". So I set on to find out what these two characters are upto these days. I discovered I have been pretty behind since I haven't read these two characters for almost 10 years now. Now I am reading them again and believe me it is fun in a strangely soothing way.

Cartoons and comics, in some ways have this power to once again put you back the times when you can easily and completely detach yourself from reality and linger in a world of fantasy and magic and mystery. It was enchanting to me when I was young and believe me, it is proving to be more exciting even now. As i slowly slip out of the company of adults, open my laptop and pretend to work, while instead I would be gorging on the new set of stories of "Nagraj" and "Dhruv" in their new adventures, all in a digital format.

Have I grown up?

Not when I am reading a comic or watching a cartoon. :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Behind Barbed Wires

Picture courtesy of

History is full of stories about persecution,genocide and mass murder of people. The reasons behind such events mostly trickled down to the geopolitics of the era, and in many cases ascribed to communal hatred and ideological differences.Regimes driven with a particular ideology have more then often promoted violence to meet their ends.

But that is history. And yet the memories of the past haunt us even now. Whether its the havoc caused by the Nazis, memories of cultural revolution in China for many, the mass murder at Tiannamen square, it all lingers around. Ironically, violence somehow always tends to leave behind unscathed scars.

Contemporary world, despite all its glamour and niceties, still witnesses these acts of violence with a shy face, helpless to do anything. The crisis at Darfur, the suffering in Gaza, the hunger in North korea, and the genocide in Tibet all remain unresolved. Other then the obvious reasons and the technicalities to explain our failure in these matters, what I see is the failure of Humanity . This realisation was very much thrown at my face, unlike before, while I worked for an organisation of former political prisoners from Tibet.

Apart from the obvious cliches of stories pertaining to suffering and hardships,common to the lives of all prisoner's of conscience.There were a few unique and very individual things I came to learn while working with former political prisoners of Tibet.

During an interview with one of the political prisoners, the answer to one question remains etched in my memory. On being asked whether one feels any guilt about having participated in an action that resulted in their imprisonment, every political prisoner i was able to speak had one unequivocal answer. That answer was "Yes".

What lied behind this acceptance of guilt for an action of conscience, revolved more around the realization of the futility of their action's outcomes rather then disdain for those outside Tibet.

"I have practically become a useless man now", "telling stories about the past seems to be the best thing I could do","my health or my intellect doesn't allow me to be able to do something practical,both for myself as well as my society". These were remarks of one of the political prisoners from Tibet. Of course there would be many who might have been made stronger in both will and wit after this experience. And yet many remain broken and disillusioned.

This is the underlying truth behind the failure of all of us responsible and all of us who have a conscience to answer. Many have lost lives and many more forgotten in the obscurity of prisons.

Whatever our actions might have been and whatever we might have done. Yet it is clear that humanity has failed and bowed down to tyranny and money( what seems to be the new age synonym for power).

Behind Barbed Wires lies the woes and cries of so many. For how long will we be deaf.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Miss Tibet Pageant 2009 from 5-7 June


MCLEOD GANJ, India, 25 March 2009 — Miss Tibet Pageant 2009 will be held from 5-7 June. The finale will be held on the 7th at the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, Dharamshala.

There will be seven rounds of competitions to be crowned the title and the cash prize of one lakh (100,000) rupees (2,000 USD approx.) for the winner. The second place will receive 50,000 rupees and the third place will receive 25,000 rupees.

Those young Tibetan women interested to participate in the pageant can apply through the online application. The deadline is approaching soon.
The participants will arrive in Mcleod Ganj on 28 May. A week's training will be provided from 29 May to 4 June that will include yoga, stage craft and dance. Orientation on Tibetan history, culture, language and current affairs will also be a part of the training. The participants will visit the Tibetan government-in-exile, schools and other institutions during the excursions.

Swimsuit round will be on the 5th at Asia Health Resorts. Rounds two and three on the 6th - the Speech and the Talent - will be held at TIPA.

The finale on the 7th evening at TIPA will have four rounds - Introduction, Evening gown, Traditional costume and the Interview.

The funds for the pageant has been coming from the director's own pockets over the years. However, Gyalnor Tsewang, a member of the Tibetan parliament-in-exile and a buniessman from Nepal, contributed 50,000 rupees in the last year's pageant. Anybody would like to sponsor or contribute to the pageant may use the PayPal button or contact us.

Tashi Dele! :)

Lobsang Wangyal

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Walk The Talk

( This is something interesting, so I have posted it for readers.)

An article By Thubten Samdup
March 22, 2009

Dharamsala, March 22 -- Four months ago a website launched to facilitate the nomination process for the next Kalon Tripa generated considerable excitement through out the Tibetan diaspora. Despite this initial enthusiasm, Tibetans have taken little to no concrete action with regards to the actual nomination process; no contributors have stepped forward, no candidate names have been submitted.

It begs the question: why?

For the first time in our history we have a parliamentary system and an evolving democratic structure intended to grant representation and freedoms. A representative political system is a tremendous achievement, but it also implies a responsibility to choose our leaders.

Tibetans in diaspora now have a precious opportunity to participate more directly in the democratic process: to choose worthy candidates from among our people to stand for the highest office in the Tibetan government-in-exile - the Office of the Kalon Tripa.

The announcement of the website met with a profusion of phone calls and email messages, all declaring an overwhelming support for the project, yet, to date, not a single nomination paper has been submitted. What are we to make of such a discrepancy between the initial verbal support expressed and the inertia that followed? Is it that there are no qualified individuals to stand as candidates in our communities, or are we just being lax, and passive?

As Tibetans in diaspora, we have 'talked the talk' of the perfecting the democratic process, and building our government-in-exile. We must also, now, 'walk the walk'.

The incumbent Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche?s term ends in August 2011. Why do we fail to exhibit the appropriate motivation or concern to find his successor?

In the last 3 years, we have been sufficiently motivated to hold 14 'long life' prayer services for His Holiness. We all want His Holiness to live long. For this, we must also sensibly see to it that his workload is lightened; affording him some much deserved rest in his later years. The next Kalon Tripa's term in office is likely to prove a crucial transitional period. During this 5-year span, His Holiness will be between 76 and 81 years of age. Mindful of this, let us in addition to offering our most earnest and sincere prayers also apply ourselves to the necessary task that will produce the optimal candidate.

We cannot afford to be lax; nor can we entertain fuzzy beliefs that would leave our democratic development to 'some ill-founded notions of 'fate' intervening for us: hoping unrealistically that ?something good? is going to happen. The next step is clearly that of working as a community to find the Kalon Tripa's successor.

Please treat this matter seriously and discuss it among your friends and in your community meetings. Let us all work together. With some effort we will surely find great candidates to run for the next office of Kalon Tripa; someone to lead us forward after Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche leaves office in 2011.

Nothing good is going to happen unless we make it happen.

For more info, go to

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I Wonder How It Happens

Rain falls
And rivulets flow
Every morning i see
small leaves glow
Mighty clouds cry
And the earth smiles
It's all miracle
I wonder, how it happens!!

Happiness comes
And everything is gay
Lucky people, always get them
Their wishes, when they pray
But for others, its all worse
When their lives, move astray
Yet, it's all Truth
Still, i wonder, How it happens!

A Thousand hands are raised
But God blesses one
Why this injustice
And this cruel fun
Oh! I won't see this line
On one side, it's all jovial
On the other, it's all glum
So, strange it all seems
I wonder, how it happens!

A rich man feels pleasure
But for the poor
There's no leisure
Dreams he visions
Yet none fulfilled
A heart he prays for
But no one's thrilled
Alas! I am still stunned
I wonder, how it happens

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lions for Lambs

There are some movies that connect to you at a personal level, even if the movie had been a box office blunder and forgotten in a critic’s trash pile. Still sometimes, one finds these few movies that connect with a select few, spread across the moviegoers fraternity. “Lions for Lambs” was one such flick I saw a year back.

This is an intertwined story about a Senator, a journalist, two soldiers, a college professor and a student. Each playing their roles in the social fabric that results in angst, frustration and the underlying helplessness, as well as indifference. For more detailed synopsis read here

Though the story is mostly about the War in Afghanistan, the politics behind it etc etc. But my interpretation of the movie is quite personal. The political cunning of the senator(Tom Cruise), the journalistic conscience of Meryll Streep's role, the concern of the professor(Robert redford), the indifference of the student, and the sacrifice of two soldiers amidst this is all is but the reality of many societies.

The stark resemblence it bears to many elements of the Tibetan exile social fabric is also obvious and many might have even noticed it. But I decided to write about it.

Personally, the character of the indifferent student, who suddenly stops attending any of his classes, was the closest to my heart. Partly because I had gone through something similar and partly because it was an uncanny semblance to how many youths who could have made a difference slowly drift away into indifference.

The conversation that follows between the professor (played by Robert Redford) and the student very lucidly brings out the moral dilemma every person faces when he desires to be an instrument of change. The frustration, the anger and the disgust at the nature of modern politics and the character of a modern politician is quite common among youths of today. Especially in the Tibetan society it is now not uncommon to find many young people who are frustrated at the way things are going and the way things are at present. Obviously I belong to this same herd.

Further, the character of the two soldiers in the movie moved me the most. These are two young people, filled not only with the angst of the above character (in the earlier paragraph), but also with the desire to do something about it and not just drift towards indifference. They then decide to join the army and become an instrument of change. This later leads to their lives being lost without achieving any purpose.

This in many ways conveys, how thin is the line between becoming an instrument of change or drifting towards just becoming one another tool in the expansion of the current political and social strata.

One can even compare their story with those of many in Tibet, who die almost every year and many every day in the darkness of Chinese prisons. Their efforts, flamed with the conscience of not standing behind when their brothers shout in exile, lead them to actions of immense courage and solidarity. And yet, knowing that such actions lead to the ruin of their complete life, troubles me to my hearts core.

What is most disturbing for me to observe, is the fact that even though there are not many who are losing their lives in exile while trying to become an instrument of change? But there are certainly many, who are misguided and misled towards believing in things that might not eventually be right.

This brings me to the character of the Senator played by Tom Cruise. Cunning, playful with words and extremely ambitious politician who wants to become the president of the U.S. In his efforts in manipulating and using Meryll Streep( the journalist) to accomplish his political ends, I see the perpetual efforts by the political herdsmen in exile, to form public opinion, in some cases manipulate it by using the name of the Dalai Lama to achieve there own political ambitions. Of course I won't be getting into name listing them here. But it grieves me to an extent that the very people in whose hands the fate and the future of the exile Tibetans as well as those who are in Tibet lies, are playing unscrupulous strangling games for their own petty political ends.

While despite Meryll streep's character's resistance in giving her words the meaning which the senator (tom cruise) wants to imply, her work somehow ends doing exactly that. And she loses all control over things otherwise and later vanishes in the story. This is again indicative of many an efforts by someone here and there in our society, that has so far failed to culminate in fruitful practical results, and with time, these efforts lose their shine and fade into obscurity.

The impending feeling that surfaces at the helm of my solitary and in many ways obscure act of writing blogs about all these things, Is in some way very much familiar to the sheer helplessness one feels, seeing the state of thing and being unable to do anything about it.

I might be a cynic, even a pessimist, but surely "Lions for Lambs" is prettty much a phrase very true to the story of the Tibetan struggle in exile.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Flightless Stairs

(Dedicated to the lost lives and unheard cries of those in Tibet)

To climb its steps
Reach its pinnacle
To find what’s
What’s Unknown
A mystery unsolved
A goal not achieved
A line not crossed
A message not read
I try and falter
Tumble and fall
Every Step’s
In air
Climbing these
Flightless Stairs

In Seclusion
Lies there
Woes of men
Of a nation Torn
In Obscurity
Withers away
Stories of Valour
Of freedom
Yet I try
To reach them
Free them
Fight for names Lost
And lives shattered
My efforts
In vain
Climbing these
Flightless Stairs

Friday, March 13, 2009

Of Korean movies, Bollywood and the Tibetan genX

I am a big movie buff, there's no particular taste I have been following but any movie that keeps me interested after the first half, falls in my favourites list. Growing up, I was mostly introduced to the Bollywood movies, this was not because of choice but simply because of the fact that we had only one all pervading channel on our Black and White, 14'inch Panasonic, and that channel was DoorDarshan(later called DD1). I would sit back on the couch right after I return from school and gorge any movie or program that was up, while doing tons of homework. Wasn't a good habbit but I really was quite efficient at it..hahahh!!

Childhood mostly went in watching Amitabh Bachchan do a doule role in Don to Rajesh Khanna Dying in Anand, from watching Shammi Kapoor do the Indian version of the twist in his various movies to Sharmila Tagore look both young and old in Aradhana. These movies were quite old even for my age, but I got to watch these movies only as a child since we didn't have a local theatre to watch new movies or a VCR player to hire a video tape. Still it was pretty interesting. As years passed by I was introduced to movies of Anil Kapoor, Govinda, Salman, Amir Khan, later Shahrukh etc... Bollywood had moved a few steps ahead and I was able to keep up the pace.... late night escapades from C.S.T Shimla(name of my boarding school) lead me to the theatres in town..Ritz, Rivoli and Shahi. Thus, I kept on gorging Bollywood movies every now and then..and every time I had money to spare and the time to have fun..I hit for the movies...

Korean movies were something I came to see quite late...I remember I was in my first year at college when i saw the first Korean movie.. and surprisingly it was one of best contemporary pop korean movies of modern times.. and that movie was.. "The Classic"(at least for me)..hahah

I remember Son Ye Jin(the actress) playing love struck daughter as well as the mother in this movie. The scene where the actor(don know his name) forgets his umbrella and how she realises its importance in flashbacks..touched me.. What was best in the movie was the scene when Jo-Seung-Woo( one of the actors) returns blind from the war and practises his meeting withe Son Ye jin in the restaurant and finally falters.. its was marvellous.. besides all these the soundtrack of the movie had become quite popular...almost most of the young tibetans had it in their cell phones or comps...then on I started taking interests in korean,thai,and some of the japanese movies.. though most of them are junk.. but you might come across a few good movies here and there...

What is most fascinatiing to me is to observe how these movies from across the spectrum of asian culture is influencing and affecting the lives of many young Tibetans in exile?

The craze behind korean and bollywood movies is quite strong among the Tibetan gen X. You could easily see how these movies have influenced even the hair style many young Tibetans have.There are many who even learn not only Hindi songs but surprisingly Korean too, many struggling with the seemingly incomprehensible words in the lyrics and yet singing it and perfecting it after sometime..using day to day korean phrases is ofcourse quite common among many.. the usual "I love you" i.e "Tsarang Ngei' (i don't know if its the right wording)is obviously a hit amongs many Tibetan school students as well as the younger people.. All this i feel, is in many ways reflective of the emptiness a Tibetan GenX feels when it comes to an identity. The lack of significant numbers of Tibetans whom you can call your ideal, except of course The Dalai Lama, might also be another reason for this search of ideals and trends across other cultures.

Now is this something to worry about? The answer is "Yes" and "No". "No" because cultural influences and the youth's inclination towards everything alien is natural and the current globalisation the world is facing is omnipresent. "Yes" because such trends are also indicative of the desperate need a social group feels about identifying itself with what is "current","modern" and "Hip".

Arguments could follow that the offsprings of a nation as great as Tibet with a culture that is still pristine and one of a kind, with a religion that is wow-ing many, such danger of identity crisis is too far fetched. But for a generation exiled thousands of miles away from its land, for a society shoved in a hot pot of modernity, wouldn't such effects as "Identity Crisis" follow? Ours is a society, even after 50 years of exile is still struggling to find its niche in the modern world.

Despite my extreme abhorrence with cultural cynicism and extreme traditionalism, these trends do make me feel that somehow, our younger generation is seemingly feeling lost when it comes to one's identity. There is a strong re surging feeling that even though one cannot escape globalism in its various forms and its nothing new when a traditional culture is influenced by a more modern one , but perhaps our genX is struggling with the same and yet more precarious situation of identity crisis that many young people face today. That perhaps these exile Tibetan GenX's escapades in the movies and lifestyles of our asian compatriots is indicative of the cultural dilemma our life in exile has put all of us into.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hindi For Tibetans

Language in its varied forms and facets has always played a pivotal role not only in evolving civilisations but also in sustaining social harmony. Imagine a world without language, without signs and symbols used to communicate, without a native script, without signals of varied sorts, wouldn’t it be a more chaotic place than today?

Imagine further what repercussion surface when misinterpretation takes place in communication, when lack of sufficient fluency in a particular form of language leads to misunderstandings and resolution of issues become difficult, and when inferences are misconstrued due to poor grasp of either of the parties language. Many of the world’s differences occur today, simply because of the lack of understanding of the other side’s language and the culture responsible for that language’s evolution.

Being a Tibetan born in exile, I had the privilege of studying both in an Indian school as well as a Tibetan school. Throughout my primary education other than English, Hindi was the primary mode of communication. This was mostly because I was studying among Indian students at the Indian school. Then in my junior school I had the privilege of having the opportunity to study Tibetan at a Tibetan school. Even then I still was able to study Hindi till my eighth grade. But what I see now is that since almost a decade now, Hindi is only taught for three years between sixth, seventh and eighth grade to be precise. The standard of Hindi taught during these three years is what a lower KG, upper KG and a first or a second grader learns at an Indian school. The result is an even poor level of understanding and fluency in the language of the land where we are currently in exile. Another major step was to reduce English to just one language class and all other subjects are taught in Tibetan now till the fifth grade. Of course, there were reasons ascribed to such steps being taken.

Primary reasons given for such steps were to improve the standard of Tibetan among the Tibetan students. This policy was later strengthened by the Education Policy implemented around 2003-05 by the Education Department of the Tibetan government in exile. Now this change has been in effect for almost a decade. What bothers me most is the question of whether or not periodic evaluation of such a policy taken place? Whether or not prompt analysis or proper studies are being carried out to study the outcomes so far? Every policy, especially with regard to education needs constant evaluation and review to gauge its viability with time and necessity. Is such a need felt within the education department of the CTA? The question bogs me.

In my personal opinion, formed through experience of working with students graduating out of school and colleges, as well as Tibetan population in general, such a policy as above has only resulted in the degradation of Hindi and English language skills of Tibetan youths. And also, this surprisingly has not also been able to uplift the poor standard of Tibetan language in exile schools.
Anyhow, leaving policy discussions behind, I come back to my main issue of the negligence of Hindi language in Tibetan schools and its repercussions.

Many underestimate the importance and significance of Hindi language for the Tibetan community in exile. The practical need and the viability of knowing the Hindi language for a Tibetan in India is enormous. I cannot even imagine how policy makers would underestimate the role of Hindi both in present and in future for Tibetans living in exile.

First and foremost all strategy for the future of Tibetans revolves irresolutely around the belief that the Tibet issue will be resolved in a near finite period of time. Of course in some cases, we see a more futuristic and long term appraoch towards policy making but the overall outlook in every policy concerning every aspect of our exile life is mostly near sighted. Infact, this can be clearly discerned from the fact that India is one place across the globe where awareness regarding the Tibetan cause is the least. When I say India, I don’t just mean some first generation Indian politicians of the time of Pandit Nehru, to some officials in and around Dharamsala and some few Indian journalists. I mean the general populace across India, students across Indian universities and schools, and the Hindi media (newspapers especially). Of course efforts have been up since the last few years in the form of some Buddhist exchange programs to some other initiatives and I applaud them. But over the course of last 50 years, I would ascribe the near zero outreach of the Tibetan cause among the 100 plus crore Indian populace and across the larger Indian political spectrum, primarily to lack of fluent Hindi speaking people in Tibetan community. And more than that the lack of interest in interaction with the Indian communities in general. This in some ways is one of the side effects of the settlement policy, which has still managed to nourish the isolation syndrome, we Tibetans so miserably suffer from.

Political support from India is not as substantial as Tibetans might want, and despite the geopolitical reasons behind this attitude by the Indian policy makers, one reason I believe is our inability to have been able to raise enough lobbyist for the Tibetan cause in the Indian community. And this mostly has happened due to our isolation from the Indian populace, resultant of a poor understanding and mastery of the Hindi language.

Secondly, one of the most critical things that sometimes worry me, is the surge in fights between Tibetans and Indians. It is understandable that, an area with two communities from a different cultural background might sometimes witness some friction among its members. And yet it goes beyond my belief that even after 50 years of our stay in India, we have not been able to grasp and adapt to the cultural intricacies of the land where we have sought asylum. The result is an increase in numbers of friction among Tibetans and Indians. This is not a matter to be slipped under the pillow. One might be too naïve to ignore the effects such incidents could have on the future of Tibetans in India, and believe me, we are here for another long stint.

Sometimes these individual skirmishes turn into communal disharmony (no matter how much one denies it). And we have seen such events occur as in the case of Chauntra and many other smaller incidents. Again, I believe that such events might have been prevented if there is more knowledge of the Indian culture among the younger Tibetan youth as well as a near thorough understanding of the Hindi Language. A good Hindi speaking (and I mean good, and not the usual typical illiterate Hindi we most Tibetans speak) person with good negotiating skills can easily diffuse such situations of tension. Of course other factors too contribute to such happenings but in the end, it all comes to misunderstanding and misinterpretation of each other’s intent. A suggestion here for the authorities, why not put one Hindi speaking Tibetan negotiater in sensitive areas where such incidents are common.

In the end, even this is just a quick fix. We would only be able to project a good image of Tibetans in India, just like the one the west has, by teaching Hindi again at the schools and also formally educating Tibetans in the Indian culture too. More engagement between Indian and Tibetans at schools and colleges should be encouraged.

Finally, one of the advantages of being able to read, write and speak proper Hindi language opens up more job avenues for the Tibetan youth. Networking is the core of increasing your opportunities of finding a job in the mainstream Indian market. Good Hindi skills, increases one’s chances manifold. Fields like insurance, marketing, public relations, journalism etc prefer a good understanding of Hindi language. Though the number of people speaking English in India is increasing manifolds, yet it always gives you and edge in your career, if you know the language of the people you work for. I have worked in the field of Youth employment and I have seen many younger Tibetans, school dropouts, school graduates and even college graduates, are not only lacking in English skills, but not so surprisingly in Hindi too. And of course I don’t even need to tell how good they are in their Tibetan skills.

What surprises me more is the fact that monks in monasteries and newly arrived Tibetans are not taught Hindi but rather English and Tibetan? Even science is taught now in the monasteries, but sadly no Hindi. Many are not even able to read the name of places where a bus is going. How can we then say that we truly appreciate this land of culture to whom we call our tutor?

Its time now that our education policy makers review the current policy and bring back Hindi to our schools. Teaching modules in Hindi should also be brought forth for newly arrived Tibetans in India as well as those who are born here.

I have heard about a culminating realisation of the importance of Chinese language across the globe. Especially many Tibetans too are saying that it is essential that we know Chinese. The reasons are surplus and I won’t be discussing them in this write up. Yet it makes me wonder, if 50 years have not made us learn the language of a place where we have been living and many who have been born. How this prudent realisation of the importance of Chinese language will shape up remains to be seen? But for now, I think its more then essential that efforts must be done to teach more Hindi.

This is the land from where Buddhism reached Tibet, from where Tibetans learned the lesson of “Ahimsa Parmo Dharma” (Non-Violence is the highest religion), a land where the roots of our Tibetan language lie, a land where we have sought refuge from Chinese oppression, a land where we have learnt democracy and a land from where we strive for our freedom.

If we don’t value and embrace the language of this land that has given us so much, I wonder how prudent are we in thinking that the future will be fine just as it is. It is this language, I believe that will play a far greater role then any other in our freedom struggle, and its high time we realise the importance of “Hindi For Tibetans”.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Give His Holiness a break, for God's sake

A couple of months back I heard about the exile governments plan to create a Human Resource Database. Like any other plan or new project announced, it came with the by line that " it was His Holiness idea, suggestion or advise". What we have seen over these decades of years is this one man, who has been leading us, guiding us, showing us the way towards progress and development. His sacrifices and contribution in establishing and sustaining an exile community of Tibetans is above question and needs no mentioning. But what has also come to my notice is the sheer amount of we Tibetan's dependence on The Dalai Lama, for almost each and everything.Is such a habit, a sign of utmost reverence for our one and only leader, or a sign of our passivity and of the creative vacuum we have successfully established?

The idea of creating and maintaining a database of Human resources is the most common and mostly followed procedure by any kind of body that deems itself to be an organisation, an institute or even governments. What surprises me that this survey is taking place only now when His Holiness has shown the desire( which for Tibetans means an order) for such a database?

It is surprising for me that during this 50 years of exile, we haven't even done the job of establishing a proper organisation in exile. The very non existence of a Human resource database is the very indication of such carelessness.

The importance of having a database of social variables like illiteracy, college education, health, demography and electoral data etc are quintessential to gauge and plan any kind of social development project or plan.

Why would you need His Holiness to tell you each and everything you need to do? Why would we put so much burden on him when he already has a lot on plate? From bestowing democracy on the Tibetan people, to establishing a functional exile government, His Holiness has already given us the playground for a proper field play. But if we refuse to move our legs and want him to do the playing too, then really, I can't imagine where in the hell are we heading. And this is just one thing I wanted to mention, I have a dozen other examples too.

Few years back, the need for having Tibetans who are specialised in certain fields came too much into public talks. Even behind that it was His Holiness, who had to come up and say that our education system has so far not produced enough professionals, we need to bring in more Tibetans who do professional courses. Then on, there was a barrage of talks, mentions, discussions of how Tibetan society needs more well educated professionals. Scholarships increased and there is still efforts going on to provide more platform for those seeking professional education. But isn't this the job of the Education Department, to plan and project and anticipate, the future course of the education system in exile. We seriously need more creative people and experienced educationists to plan and make every policy when it comes to education. We really don't need bureaucrats doing what they feel is right. The current level of education in our society, whether you agree or not, is really at a pathetically grim stage. It is high time that we need more to be done on education rather than other issues that get all the hulla bulloo.

Would we again want His Holiness to show his desire for something to be done? Or would we, especially the politicians and bureaucrats, tighten their belts and get more creative and aggressive in their work?

Tibetans really need to grow up and get away from the habbit of being baby sat by His Holiness. We really, and I say really really, need to give His Holiness a break and become more self reliant.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tibetan Politicians- Could you grow up??

( Written sometime in 2007 for Tibetan World Magazine)

Like the rest of the world, I too had this romantic perception about everything related with Tibet. Whether it's the general public, our bureaucrats and our representatives at the ATPD (*Assembly of the Tibetan People's deputies), I always had this fascinating illusion of us having this higher level of moral consciousness and in recent times, the idea that our society has grown to be more liberal than it used to be. Perhaps, its because of the high standards of morality, tolerance and liberalism His Holiness The Dalai lama has set as anindividual, we somehow feel that we too are competent enough to be identified with the qualities he possesses. And it is here that we go wrong. This was very much obvious to me from the meeting I had with one of the Tibetan MPs who is currently the "Speaker of the House" of our ATPD.

As I entered the parliamentary secretariat, I was being directed to his office that is the office of the current Speaker. The first thing I noticed was a calendar of the year 2004 and not 2007. Insignificant in the beginning, but I realized later that this was perhaps the indication of the things I am going to experience during this day. Getting my mind away from the calendar, I took an interest in the conversation of our representatives. As a young Tibetan youth, it was a rare opportunity for me to be face to face with the people who are ordained with the power to decide our future. I thought it to be my responsibility to use this opportunity to the best of my capacity and express to them, the views, the confusions and the doubts of a common Tibetan youth. I was asked to express my views on education by the delegates I was accompanying, without any hesitation, I took the opportunity to express my grievances as to how the level of education is degrading in our schools, how religious teachings in our schools is not effective in accomplishing its goals of imbibing the young school graduates with a certain practical knowledge of Buddhist philosophy, how interested and amazed our Tibetan college graduates become when someone explains to them the basic fundamental principles of Buddhism in English, how I feel the level of Tibetan language in Tibetan schools has degraded. By doing all this, I didn't realize that somehow I was offending our speaker at a personal level. This I realized, when later at the dinner hosted by our speaker of the house, I was confronted with the most ugly and realistic picture of Tibetan politics that besides all the idealism and superficial morality attached with it, the fact remained that, "people are people, and our politicians were no different". The following experiences were no sweeter.

At the dinner table, right from the beginning, I had this impression that I am not supposed to talk tonight. I could see our speaker, with a stern face and he never actually even looked at us (two youths who were present there besides the delegates) for our views on what he was talking about. Perhaps, I am being too judgmental in saying that and I thought the same while listening to his judgmental view on almost everything, from weather, to western morals, to youths, to other democracies. And yet, I kept hope, I believed that our politicians are far more liberal, morally motivated individuals compared to the hypocrites of conventional politics. But this view of mine was to be shattered completely and to the bits, by the following experiences of that dinner.

Being completely aware about the sensitivities of the older Tibetan generation, I expressed my views in the courteous of the courteous possible manner and that too in a very non intrusive fashion, but surely without being too diplomatic. I felt a certain level of ownership on our leaders, because it was our future they were dealing with, it's after all the lives of the youth that will be most affected by the decisions they make. I was being too idealistic, as I came to know when our speaker of the house suddenly burst into a tirade of authoritative warnings in Tibetan, commanding me to shut my mouth. To him it seemed that I was touching on issues inconvenient to discuss in front of foreign observers. His words in Tibetan, "Don't talk about things you don't know?". Now my question is, "How are we supposed to learn then, when our leaders ask us to shut up? Could it be the reason why the participation of the youths in the election is the least? Are we all aware of such response from a senior politician that we have refrained from engaging in the political process?" This was the moment when reality crept into picture and I was introduced to the double standards and the superficiality that unlike my expectations has already entered the realm of Tibetan politics and our speaker was no different in adopting it. What shocked me even more is to realize that his behavior was the complete reflection of the manner in which China deals with issues related to Tibet. How it refers to Tibet as an internal affair and how embarrassed and angry China gets, when the CTA or any Tibetan acknowledges the wrong doings of China in front of other nations. It was hilarious in some manner and yet heart wrenching at the end. I thought it best to be silent, not because I was scared, but because of the respect I felt out of pity for this old, tired haggard man, who despite of having worked for so long, still seemed to be a bit outdated and stone walled, when it comes to facing criticisms and not being the archetypal "Frog in the well". Ironically, it was a parable he himself mentioned during the conversation. Even at the end, I thanked him for the opportunity to be there and also apologized if my views had offended him. But again, the man seems to have taken it completely personally and once again came with an outburst of warnings in Tibetan language. I was petrified from that instant. I have never in my dreams imagined such a response from a Tibetan politician.

Having said all this, I must also acknowledge that there were some very positive experiences too. I came across our Deputy speaker, a very fine lady with not only an open heart, but also a mind that was open to criticisms. I met the former secretary to His holiness, an open minded and liberal man with an open ear that in fact it was this meeting with him the previous day, which encouraged me to express my views without any fears. I met our prime minister, who despite what people believe, seemed to me to be someone who will never stop you from expressing yourself, no matter whether he agrees with you or not. My meeting with the secretary of the DIIR was also encouraging and positively influencing. Our foreign affairs minister represented another open minded Tibetan persona. So basically, Tibetan politics seemed to me to be a mixture of all kinds of people. But having said that, one thing that has dawned upon me as I reiterate, that the idealism attached with Tibetan politics and politicians, is a little too far fetched. And that we too have heavy headed and out of touch politicians like the rest of the world.

From this trip of Dharamsala, I came to learn a lot and experiencing first hand politics and politicians has given me a lot of positive motivation. Few essential though common questions that came to my mind, Is there a massive communication gap between the Tibetan Youths and our elected representatives? How many youths actually vote and try to influence the representation at the ATPD? Is regional politics a huge barrier for the election of popular and effective representation at our assembly? How much is the actual engagement of our elected representatives with the youths? And are they really in touch with the aspirations of a young Tibetan youth? Why can't we have an independent, non regional Youth representative at the ATPD? If the current framework does not allow it, then why not change it? What do we, the Tibetan Youths need to do about all this?

This whole episode started me off on a completely different journey. Infact an educative one too... I started researching about the Tibetan political system, the electoral system, its nitty gritties and am still a student. Over this time, I have come across many flaws in the current system of election in exile, not in its entirety but in some of its aspects. I will be writing about it soon.. but for now... thats the experience I wanted to sure many others youngsters have met the same kind of heavy headed people at respectable posts in our society.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Sherlock Fan!!!

I know ...I know...declaring my love for Sherlockism will probably get me listed as a nerd.. but to be fair..the characters got something in it that attracts attention..just saying for the non sherlockians out here...

I m.. totally an outright fan of the adventurous and mysterious stories of Sherlock Holmes. Again, being a nerd I am.. I have read each story of the famous sleuth for almost more than a hundred times.. that is each story in segregation. Watched all available vidoes too.. though i mostly prefer Jeremy bretts portryal of the historic fiction detective.

Every word penned by Sir Arthur of this marvellous character makes u read each story again and again. It did seem mundane and drabbing in the beginning.. but a lot depends upon ones interest in reading these genre of the older writing style..the descriptions of a victorian english era..all the romanticism attached to it.. Infact i m an ardent fan of older english novels. Love the way they are so full of meadows, moors, shires, villas, english villages...thats what intrigued me first to read it.

My encounter with the legendary sleuth was a little weird.... I was in the school library.. a 15 year old chap I was way back then.. the sort who wanted to brag and show off his literary interests among his peers...hehehe.. always wanting to read the thickest and the most dusky book in the corner.. trying to represent a taste of the rustic...thats how I was.. still rustic I am even now.. I saw this thick book.. which i remember now was a collection of all the stories and novels of sherlock holmes complied in one huge book. I saw it lying in the corners of the enlish literature section. Took it out... Hadn't even heard about the gentlemen detective ever in my life before..never had an iota about how famous this characterter already was.. I took out the book just to show off...but of course i did read all the books i took out of the library to show off.. so that was one merit to be fair.

i started reading it right from the beginning... now as with sherlock I am a person who is always keen on method and order in whatever I do.. except for the pitiful writing..haha.. So i always read a book in order.. never try to skip from the first story to the middle or end. So my first encounter with the Sherlock story was... "A Study In Scarlet". So you see I was introduced to Sherlock Holmes in a very orderly fashion. Right from the story where he made his first debut. Interesting it was... it reminded me of the TV serial I used to watch back at home a couple of years back. The character was called "Byomkesh Bakshi" a bengali sleuth with a side kick similar to Dr.Watson. I was like.. oh this story is similar to that serial.. but this was written way before I saw this Indian serial... Thus begun my journey into the world of literature on legendary sleuth characters.. from Hercule Poirot, to Agatha Christies was an interesting journey....

But having read so many of Hercules and agatha's stories.. Sherlock Holmes still stands out in the list of intriguing and enjoyable stories I have read.. i have always wanted to visit Baker street 221B.. and one day.. I will.

Innocent Ramblings!!!!

Very new here.. so forgive me if I tend to circumlocute over every nook and corner of reason and logic in establishing my opinion..Quite a new thing for me.. blogging.. perhaps a new thing for many an aspiring Tibetans who want to write something..who want to vent out whats been inside them..especially the youth. definitely a new thing for me to do i have decided to begin this journey of self expresion.. introvert as I am.. but a platform like this will definitely help in at least getting my petty little ideas out in the web world for the least...

As it is... i see a lot of Tibetans writing.. young, old and the really old ones too(disgustingly)..writing about freedom, about buddhism and so many other isms.. anything related with the word Tibet...

I will restrain myself from venturing into those areas.... perhaps may be sometimes.. but not always...yet i would like to write.. I would like to write about things closer to my heart..of course as a Tibetan..but just wanted to make sure that I am not in the band wagon of freedom mongering..slogan shouting..hulla bulloo.. of a people.. not that they are any sort of worst group.. but my identity is separate..I m the silent and the restless young Tibet...the frustrated..ones.. the pessimistic ones.. the complaning ones.. the never taken seriously ones..yes I m one of these. Fruitless or fruitful.. i will begin my ramblings and possibly hope that something good will come out of it.. yes.. yes.. yes..I m the lazy..sort.. always the demanding sort.. never yet acting sort.. but hey.. m considering the blogging act.. as my perhaps the first bear with me...

Don bother about the style... not here to prove my literary hate me.. love me... ignore me.. or watever you please.. thus shall i begin.. my ramblings... of all sorts.. of here and there..meaningless..meaningful...So Get Ready!!!!!!!!