In the bustling streets of Mcleod Ganj, an old pola went about making announcements on the microphone for a special prayer gathering the next morning. The occasion, he said, was because “Tibet-China Negotiations have started.” It’s strange that in our struggle, the common people’s role is reduced to tsampa-throwing rituals and saying prayers.
The third delegation has been able
to get themselves invited by
And yet, we seem to be focusing all
our concentration on this; discouraging – even outlawing – alternative ways of
expressing freedom struggle. At the time of the Chinese invasion, there was no
political awareness among the general Tibetan populace. State and public had
almost no relationship except for tax collection. The aristocrats in
In my previous column I wrote
critically about our Members of the Parliament and, as if to prove me right,
many MPs acted disastrously ridiculous during the September parliamentary
session. I made another trip to the parliament. Except for the new interior
décor, and the parliament now facing east a symbolic gesture to face
As if Dharamsala had a fit of sorts, for about two weeks the usual Hindi soap operas on the TV suffered miserable negligence. Bhagsu cable was entertaining the 6,000 odd Dharamsala Tibetans with more dramatic scenes; many of our MPs were seen thumping away at their chests in the gorilla-style, speaking and gesticulating most animatedly in the parliament. Some were seen swearing that they were not afraid of anybody except for one or two or three people.
The protestations were neither supported by facts or figures, nor by any reason. And while voting was being done, one just couldn’t help but feel pity that they looked around to check if their clan leader’s hand had gone up or not. Live coverage makes it absolutely clear how the parliament has fallen into factions and it was there for all see. This parliament made decisions, many decisions.
The only consolation was those few MPs who patiently listened to everybody and made their own statements, loaded with researched and updated information. They are our only thinking representatives.
Now let the video recording travel to the refugee camps, release the bomb, and let the public see how their MPs perform and posture in parliament. The video recording has become a bridge between the MPs and public at large. It has brought transparency and created a new interest in the people about our political affairs. I see our toddler democracy wrapped in a long chupa, totter around, trip and pick itself up again.
idea of Swaraj is what both His Holiness and our Kalon Tripa have in mind for a
Tourism may be an industry, a source
of national income, but not in the rampant capitalistic consumerist manner,
which has left many cultural hubs in the world decimated. Developing our
economy, opening our country to modern changes, we must remain alert to the
attacks of globalization. For that we have our cousin
Is Swaraj then idealistic, as many critics doubt? This is an
‘Swaraj’ is a process where one learns to free oneself. A community of people of such independence and high moral standards will have achieved Swaraj. This freedom soars far above the more mundane political independence.
September saw Mrs. Wager coming to Dharamsala again. At 83, the inji amala continues to help the Tibetans. She was calling it her last visit, but she left with another very long list of ‘things to do’. It was in those years of the early ‘60s and ‘70s when we needed foreign aid. Today, there isn’t a single Tibetan in exile who is going hungry or bare shouldered. In fact, our community has been called the most successful refugee community in the world. We may have become better off, our standards of living in general improved, but we have weakened and we are losing the sense of struggle and work.
And still there are many Tibetans who hide their TV sets and change into humble pajamas when their sponsors come to visit them. It pains me beyond measure to write this, but this truth has to come out. We have fallen into dependency on these jindags. The good hearts of these foreigners have become our weak points.
Jindagism is what we have to fight against. This is basically a mentality of dependency, the easy and short-cut path to a comfortable life. It saves sweat and dirtying your hands. Mrs. Wager on her last visit to Orissa Tibetan Refugee camp two years back said to me there had only been one Tibetan who said to her that the person no longer needed her support, and thanked her.
Tibetans by nature I consider
hard-working and enterprising. I have seen extremely skillful Tibetan
entrepreneurship in carpet industries, the hospitality industries and travel
and tourism. Senge Himalayan Ceramics in
asks each members of the community to take up responsibility. We have very high
level of Religious and cultural Swaraj, even from
Our clannish-tribal groupism and aristocrats run fiefdoms of 1950s left us no path to political Swaraj. With the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Democracy as the fabric of our civil society, we have the biggest challenge to move forward into strengthening the community in political awareness.
Unless we have not achieved this
internal Swaraj, we may end up losing whatever we may
gain - Rangzen or Autonomy. There are much more for
the public to do before taking on
*Tenzin Tsundue is a writer and
activist for free