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"

2 comments:

  1. Indeed, no quick fixes at all.

    Speaking from the American perspective, as an American who has watched the art of presidential diplomacy thrive during the Kennedy years and gradually atrophy away under the Bushes, I'd suggest that one of His Holiness's greatest accomplishments lies in the area of international diplomacy; he has been, and continues to be, one of the Tibetan people's most effective advocates, particularly to those who know very little about Tibetan culture. This particular talent will be difficult, if not impossible, to replace.

    (BTW--President Obama seems to be a student of the art of presidential diplomacy hhimself; too soon to tell, but he does seem to have ambitions in this area.)

    And as Mr. Tsewag Rinzin told me last summer, "He [HHDL] handed democracy to the Tibetan people on a silver platter." That, in and of itself, is no small accomplishment.

    That said, I would agree, as a diehard Inji, that the Tibetan people are coming to a crossroads with the 2011 election. Those of us who live in a democracy with varying strengths and weaknesses will take special interest in the future course plotted by the Tibetan electorate-in-exile. Tibetan monks have long served as Westerners' psychiatrists, and so it's not difficult to see how Tibetan culture--in its entirety--is often misunderstood by Westerners whose only contact with the culture is monastic in nature.

    That, I think, is due to change over the next two years as the election approaches.

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  2. Often times we tend to 'under-estimate' the Tibetan spirit - at times I feel Tibet will bring down the CCP.

    And at times, (perhaps out of my deluded mind) I feel Tibetans will eventually do a lot better than the Jews - in other words, we won't fall victims to our own atrocities, as the Jews have become.

    Best of luck. Nyinjey

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