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.

What should ideally happen this time, should be the election of a Prime Minister who is able to come out of the shadow of His Holiness. A person who is able to take charge in the absence of The Dalai lama. A prime minister who is endorsed with full vigour and backed with enthusiasm by even His Holiness. Only then, can a new face for the cause of Tibet become tangible.

Breaking the Cycle; A global face:
An amalgam of religion and politics is supposed to form the core ideology behind the Tibetan form of governance. Has it been useful for the cause of Tibet? Yes. Has it been able to realise a solution for the issue of Tibet? No.

Therefore, in times of such rapid globalisation and intertwined structure of geopolitics, Tibetans need more than a religious figure balancing religion and politics. What is need of the hour is a face and a mind that will make the issue of Tibet relevant in the coming years? We don't know how exactly the impending economic crisis will shape the future of the world. Many say, China will emerge far stronger and influential through this current crisis.

If that were to be true then what strategy do Tibetans have, to tackle such an imminent scenario. A shift in the world view, that the cause of Tibet is more about millions of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet, rather than just about Buddhism or Peace, is the need of the hour.

Now a common Tibetan, with a modern face, backed and guided by His Holiness, and elected by Tibetan people will surely be able to infuse, a new flow of energy into the whole course of finding a plausible solution for Tibet. Thus, it is most essential that this time around we bring a new face, with a new vision, and an understanding of the realities of today's world at the forefront of running our struggle.

Role of Youth:
This is undenying that the role of youth, like any other country or society, is also of great significance for the future of Tibet.

Therefore, unlike previous occasions when we had fewer choices of leaders to choose, this time around, i believe there will be more names on the nomination list. Thus, it becomes far more important for all youths alike to take an interest and express our mandate in the most lucid manner by casting our ballot for the right candidate.

The American presidential elections saw a surge in participation, when it came to youths ballot this time around. This in many way paved the way for the election of a younger and more dynamic leader for the whole American nation.

It is imperative for the Tibetan youths too, to understand the need for a younger,modern and a dyanamic face for the Tibetan cause than ever before.

We must turn out in good numbers this time around and prevent any conservative and leftist voices in our society to come at the top.

Hearsay(a rumour), that I feel should not materialise:

I have been hearing about talks in a few quarters of the Tibetan assembly members that many are looking for a possibility of an ammendment in the Tibetan charter,so that Prof.Samdhong Rinpoche is able to run for a third term at the office.

If this is true, then such an events will be totally against the wishes of His Holiness, who more than once has indicated that a new and young leadership at helm is what we need right now.

I would even go at lengths to compare it with the referendum that Hugo Chavez(president of Venezuela conducted so that he could run for another term. The difference would be that , such an action would be initiated by the elected representatives at the Tibetan assembly and not Samdhong Rinpoche. Thus, taking us a step back in our movement, no matter what excuse they have on their platters.

A Few Tips To The Tibetan Election Commission:
The coming elections for the Kalon Tripa is significant to an extent that none of us could even think of ignoring the far reaching implications it could bring for Tibetans in exile.

Therefore, the need for an overwhelming number of votes cast is paramount. It is most important that the Tibetans, young and old, express their mandate in an overwhelming manner.

My request to the election commission this time would be to increase the number of polling stations. Especially, as a youth, it is essential that there are polling stations at every major cities where considerable number of Tibetan students reside. And by considerable as per the standards of Tibetan population, I would say even 50 students is quite considerable.

So, whatever are the rules governing the allotment of polling stations. I hope that this time time around there are more places for a young Tibetan to establish his mandate by voting, who otherwise studying at a college, or working at a city, with constraints of time and reach ability, has been on many occasions deprived of access to a nearby polling station.

A change in the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile and its elections:

A serious and drastic change is required in the way our legislative members are elected. Based on a regional electoral system initially formulated to represent the integrity of Tibet, in its three provinces and five religious sects, the current electoral system has run out of its relevance in the context of current challenges facing the exile society as well as the present realities of Tibet under china.

Such a system must now either give way to or accomodate, a more constituency based electoral system where popularity of candidates play a bigger role than technicalities of the current regional based( meaning regions in Tibet) electoral system.

My suggestion would be to start having two houses in the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile. One that is based on the current electoral system responsible for matters related with national politics, foreign affairs etc.And another house that solely focuses on the challenges of exile society. Whether its education, health, settlements, employment etc. only leaders from various regions in India where exile communities reside will be in a position to understand and tackle these problems effectively.

Currently there are over 10 legislative members who stand for elections under the current electoral system from just Dharamsala. That is almost 20% of legislative members are from Dharamsala, while the Tibetan population here might even not be 5% of the exile diaspora. Such unbalanced and obsolete design of electoral system must either be abandoned or changed, so that newer challenges are dealt in a more effective manner.

Efficient, effective and evolutionary governance of the exile set up:
It is most critical that the current set up of Tibetan refugees in exile, established after much hardships of the Dalai lama, is maintained and flourished.

The new Kalon Tripa(Prime Minister) must be in touch with today's realities and have the knowledge and the understanding of the modern concepts and breakthoroughs in the science of governance. He should also be aware of the social challenges and problems the community in exile faces.

Whether its education, Health, Planning and International relations, a person who could understand the intricasies and the technicalities of all these aspects, in a modern, up to date and current context of globalisation should be at the helm of leading the Tibetan government in exile.

Traditional thinking and concepts of development must assist the flow of any new strategy of governance, but mostly should remain at the backseat.

Possible nominees for Kalon Tripa 2011:

Lobsang Sangay, Lobsang Nyendak, Tashi Wangdu and Tenzin Namgyal are a few names being thrown here and there these days for nomination to Kalong Tripa 2011 elections. I will be posting their brief biographies soon.

I will be nominating Dr.Lobsang Sangay for Kalon Tripa 2011. I have my reasons, that I will express in my coming posts on this blog. Till then, rise up, its time we do something.


  1. Hi Rinchen -- I very much enjoyed meeting you in Dharamsala and deeply appreciate your translating for us . . . your command of English is impressive. I have inadvertently misplaced your email address (which I wrote on the back of a card) and would like to write you, so if you still have my card, drop me a note when you get a chance and I'll write you back. Thanks very much.

    Best Wishes,

    Sidney Burris

  2. Hello again Rinchen--Your blog is incredibly thoughtful and impressive. I can't wait to shake off this jet lag and explore it more. It was lovely to meet you in Dharamsala, and thank you so much for your wonderful translating skills. As Dr. Burris said, we have somehow lost your email address, and there were several of us that wanted to communicate with you, even if only to send you our repeated thanks. So shoot Burris an email, cause we would love to be able to express our gratitude. Thank you again, and I hope this note finds you well.

  3. Rinchen, I feel moved to comment on the eventual sad but inevitable demise of HH. The Kalon Tripa names do not mean a lot to me; I do not know nearly enough to offer an opinion. Traditionally, the monkhood has taken a great part in the administration of Tibet. Thomas Jefferson, a personal icon for me, said that you must never mix religion and politics, though Buddhism is not a religion so much (see here: http:// ), though I doubt if he knew of some of the Himalayan states in his day which ran like well-oiled machines, incorporating the well-educated monkhood's disciplined upbringing and practical knowledge. And if more monasteries than chartered accountancies were built, that just reflects the wants and needs of these societies at a point in time. The monkhood and monasteries fulfilled a vital function in pre-Chinese society. I saw an old woman saying to the BBC how much better it is since they took away the monkhood and monasteries where she lived. Trying her best (she looked over 100) not to displease the Chinese interpreter, she was weeping softly. The power in making others insecure! Britain has its monarchy, costing much more, which is supposedly to make Brits feel secure, and though millions are given to them every year, they just turn up at flag - waving events and anything useful they do is paid for by the taxpayer. But then, the PRC are not in this to make lives better or more secure, and the last thing they need is a keen-minded Tibetan figurehead loved by the people!
    We need an intelligent and perceptive Buddhist leader, more than a figurehead, which HH the Gyalwa Rinpoche has been and done in spades. He has handled the serpent of China with foresight and tact, where a lesser leader might have lost us the game, this ugly scenario, long ago. Unless we go back to regents, what will happen? In the interim till the next Gyalwa Rinpoche, I'd like to point out a someone whom I have found to be an ethically-minded, compassionate young man. I have watched him growing up, and always I have felt that here is a man who could light a fire of awareness under all the complacency, since for every gung-ho demonstrator there are half a dozen who just want the quiet life. Many worry about their families, and that is another reason for a lack of passion. I am a practising Buddhist, but it is not because I am Kagyu that I feel this... His Holiness the Karmapa is modern in much of his outlook (he has a section in You Tube!) and for the past two years he has been writing and filming, emphasising the words of the Buddha (like his impassioned plea that if you do not need to eat meat then don't. You are not just laying a heavy burden in a karmic sense on yourself, but are taking food out of the mouths of people elsewhere). There is enough food to feed the world twice over or more, but it takes 10Kg of wheat to 'make' 1Kg cow. McDonalds food kills you, and believe me some of the staff additionally sometimes take revenge on the food for their low wages, as I've read many times in the press. This is just one example, and though He is far too astute a man to spout scripture at people, it shows that he thinks not just about practicalities, but also about the things that contributed to Tibet's unique character. Do you think there is a place for the Karmapa as a wise man who will give good counsel? Is he an example of the fresh young blood we need?
    Forgive me; I have not yet read all of your blog, I hope that I have managed to grasp the essence of what I did read, and from this extract the general tenor of the essay. Do forgive also my ignorance re anything you may have said. All I have seen of the Karmapa has been worthy of praise, and I feel he could make a valuable contribution to the early 21st century for Tibet.