Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What is the role of a North America Chithue?

In 2011, much of the focus had been on the Sikyong candidates with limited attention being paid to the Chithue nominees and finalists. There were a few low profile debates/discussions for Chithues, which did not seem to have attracted too much attention.

This year, in 2016, there has been relatively much more interest in the Chithue elections, and in particular, the North America elections. There are already a couple of debates being announced, the first being hosted by RTYC Minnesota on Dec 12, 2016.

Personally, as a young Tibetan and a North America resident, I feel extremely responsible for the two chithue votes that I will cast during the final elections on March 20th, 2016. This is an important decision for me and for all North America Tibetans.

As I contemplate my decision to vote for a/two particular chithue candidate/s, the first question (perhaps out of my ignorance), that comes to my mind is,

" What is the role of a North America Chithue?"

This is an important question, and as I try to find an answer to it, I have been hard pressed by the ambiguity and the diversity of opinions many people have expressed.

Some envision the role of North American Chithue as a a true representative of the North American Tibetan electorate, and in being so, primarily responsible for the welfare of Tibetans in North America and the issues affecting them.

Some have pointed to a broader role and responsibility a North America Chithue can/should play in the context of larger Tibetan issues.

Others have lamented on the limited resources at the disposal of the North America Chithue to be able to uplift this title from less of a volunatry role to more of a leadership role in all issues pertaining to Tibet.

While some have frowned at and pointed to this position, as a means of getting 2 free trips to India every year, and an opportunity to expand one's personal network, while throughout the year, you just chill and may be give a lecture or two here and there.

Many actually point out that this is a  reasonable complaint considering one can easily sponsor the education of a young Tibetan in college for the $3000 or more being spent on the ticket to India. There are views that the North America Chithues must pay or raise their own expenses. I actually agree with that. 

So again, what is/should really be the role of a North America Chithue?

If you ask me, I think there are valid arguments in some of the viewpoints above.

While I agree that the responsibilities/initiatives that the North America Chithue candidate can take are limited by the resources available at hand, at the same time, the North American Chithue has both a much larger platform as well as relatively far greater resources compared to the Chithues in India, Nepal etc.

Infact, the very fact that you are living in North America, a country with the greatest amount of resources and opportunities available, if sought diligently, the question about limited resources is nothing but  facile.

To me, the post of North Ameria Chithue is an opportunity and a privilege to serve your community at large, with the greatest resources that are at your disposal as an American. It is no small matter!

Anyone coming with a sense of entitlement, thinking they are doing a favor for our community, is an automatic disqualifier,at least for one of my votes.

The distinguishing factor for the candidates, would then be for us to decide, as to who is/are the most well suited candidate/s, who will take this opportunity as a privilege and serve their community with vigour, ingenuity, relentless passion and a sense of humility. A candidate who would take this beyond 2 trips a year to India and at the same time not complain about limited resources.

What else?

Personally, I do not view the North America Chithue as simply someone catering to the needs/issues affecting the Tibetans in North America. Yes they are responsible, but this should not be their sole focus.

For the Tibetan diaspora in western countries, historically and strategically, I have always thought that the role of Tibetans in developed countries, is not only preserving and promoting Tibetan culture and heritage abroad, but most crucially, it is strengthening the Tibetan movement that Tibetan government in exile or the Central Tibetan Administration is spearheading. This needs to be done both economically and politically.

And it is this responsibility, that I would hold my chithue candidate to.

Preservation of Tibetan culture, language and heritage is the responsibility of all Tibetans across the globe.

My North America Chithues need to show me that they can take it beyond that! They need to show that they can serve and accomplish, and not just play petty politics.

As you make your mind about a candidate, ask yourself whether the role you envisioned for your candidate is what they stand for or not?

Tashi Delek!

*** These are part of a series of articles aimed to stir conversation/interest/discussion for the upcoming North America Chithue elections. For more visit www.renaissancetibet.com

10 Questions for the North America 2016 Chithue Finalists
2016 First North America Chithue Debate: Was it really a debate?
Minnesota Debate: The Victors!

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