Archive for May, 2012

Dharamsala | McLeod Ganj | Dolanji

May 5, 2012

beautifully captured pics of children and monks with so much positivity and energy in mcleodganj, dharamsala.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on my views on Tibet and Gandhian approach.

May 3, 2012

I don’t like to repeat myself. Twice, people have approached me in person to debate on the cause of Tibet and Gandhian approach to it, in response to my blog. I don’t know their intentions as to whether they just saw me and sensed that its a good time to debate or to just kill time. However, the problem with their debate is that they haven’t read my blogs properly, so they ask the same questions that I’ve already answered in my blog and I don’t feel like repeating myself over and over.

Of course, there are many reasons for their actions. People find my blog too long and they don’t have time to go through the whole lot, which I think is a valid reason. The reasons on my part is that I write more clearly than speak. Hence, I find it hard to recollect everything that I wrote as I struggle with my speech. Therefore, to address this problem, I got this idea to create FAQs on my views on Tibet and Gandhi, so that people can look up on the questions that interests them, without having to go through the whole blog, and we can then carry the debate forward rather than being stuck with the same questions over and over again. To those interested in the detailed answer and with free time, they will have to go through my other blogs.

I’ve compiled some questions from in-person debate and from Facebook. I’ll add more when there is more debate.

Q1). Why do you think the Tibetan Freedom Movement is too passive?

A). There are several reasons. First, we expect world to save us ‘cos we are victims. Second, we are waiting for changes to happen in China, instead of bringing our own changes. Third, for a long time, we have shirked our responsibilities and let Dalai Lama do all the hard work, while we are busy focusing on making our livelihoods and how to go to western countries. His Holiness may be a better leader, but he can’t lead us all the time due to his age, so, why can’t we grow up and take on responsibilities and lessen the burden from his shoulders. As Tibetans, we lack confidence and self belief, including me. I think its ‘cos we are laid-back and easy going. We’ve too much fear. I do.

Q2) Both Gandhian approach and Tibetan approach are non violent.  So, what are the differences?

A). There are similarities. Both our movements are non violent, but ours is passive and his isn’t. First, Gandhi led active struggle from the front by leading protests and doing hunger strike, but we don’t have anyone yet. Dalai lama, being a religious or spiritual leader, is acting from behind. Can we imagine him leading the protests, or going on hunger strike. He is above all those things. I still don’t know whether that is the right thing or not, hence I can’t criticize. Lets leave the issue at that. Second, Gandhi never changed his stance, but we did. We gave everything on the platter to the spoilt kid China, who can’t understand reciprocity or kindness. That’s not a good parenting skill. Third, our people may not feel depressed, but they definitely feel helpless, which is clearly visible everywhere, including the pleading of hunger strikers to some UN officials. Our helplessness shows our victimness.

There are also differences in non-violent ways. Ours is passive while Gandhi is proactive. Cowards are non violent ‘cos they back down from any issue. So there is no fight. Even passive bystanders are non violent ‘cos they are just standing or going on with their life without much care for others. Gandhi’s approach was to provoke the enemy but respond non-violently and by not backing down. If the enemy hits you, show the other cheek. No eye for an eye.

Gandhi’s non violent means was neither cowardly not passive. So, there are more differences than similarities. Gandhi was the one in control, not the Britishers. Gandhi provoked them by defying the laws non-violently and they just responded aggressively to his actions. When he didn’t respond the same way, they were baffled. How do you show aggression to someone who doesn’t respond in the same way ? In our case, we’ve let all the balls in China’s court and waiting for response and change of heart from China. Ours isn’t a Gandhi approach by a long shot.

Q3). The situation of India’s and Tibet’s freedom struggles are different in other ways also. So, Gandhian approach won’t work? India’s population is big compared to Tibet and the Judiciary system of British Empire was fair and independent to some extent compared to China. Also, China is a big super power with superior military and the world’s biggest army . We can’t take them on our own. 

A). People may say our situation is different or we’ve to think according to reality, but weakness can never be the answer in any situation. No matter what the situation, having a firm, assertive approach from our side is more important, irrespective of enemy’s situation. China is like a child full of tantrums. We cannot correct the child’s behaviour by fulfilling or appeasing all the demands as it’ll never end. At some point, we’ve to say enough is enough, and refuse to accept the brat’s demands. If necessary even scold him or give one slap to show who’s the boss. My point here is that a spoilt child can’t understand any diplomacy. They have to be dealt straightforwardly. Same thing with China. Demand our rights. No more saying to China, “We’ve done everything you want, now is your turn”. Diplomacy won’t work. Diplomacy is weakness. Plus, the world won’t give a damn. They only want trade and oil.

The differences about the number of populations is secondary. How many people does it take to make a difference? Even one is enough, and we still have millions.

China’s Judiciary maybe a puppet of communist regime and not fair unlike Britisher’s, but the international community is. They may not support us wholeheartedly politically, but we Tibetans do have a worldwide support and sympathizers. China can manipulate domestic laws, but they can’t avoid international condemnation. Our advantage is that the world is connected more globally than during the British rule in India. Gandhi’s exploits made headlines mainly in India and Britain, but Tibet issue makes headlines worldwide and instantly thanks to internet and social medias.

My point is that we shouldn’t be focusing on differences as to why things wouldn’t work, and work on finding solutions instead. Anyone can make up excuses. Its easier to oppose than to propose.

Q4). Why do you think Tibetans have a victim mentality? Why do they need to get away from it? Isn’t it a fact that they are the victims at the hands of China’s Communist Gov’t? So, why deny the fact?

A). We, Tibetans, have a victim mentality ‘cos we are looking at international community like UN, to save us, to make us free from Chinese colonialism. We are waiting for positive changes to happen in China, which will eventually free Tibet, which I find is a wishful thinking. Things won’t change by merely wishing or hoping. Our victim mentality was proven again by the hunger strikers in New York when they emotionally pleaded to UN officials to intervene in Tibet. Tibetans have a victim mentality because they seem helpless and don’t know what else to do besides urging, protests and going on hunger strike. Our approach reinforces that mindset. Truth can’t prevail on its own. Similarly, evil also can’t prevail on its own. It only does so when good people do nothing about it. There is a well known quote about that from one of the world’s greatest scientist, Albert Einstein. In contrast, for goodness and truth to prevail, good people have to do something about it. There is always a human connection or a lack of it. In short, neither truth nor evil can prevail on its own. There is more to truth or evil than just words.

We need to get away from this victim mentality because we can’t feel helpless about our situation. We need to take proactive approach and bring the changes in Tibet and possibly China, not wait for it. We need to find effective ways to achieve our goals rather than feel helpless. We need to empower ourselves and believe in our potentials, not feel helpless. We’ve to believe that we can carry on with our nation’s struggles, with or without the Dalai lama.

There is no denying the fact that Tibetans are not victims, but so are others like the natives and indigenous people everywhere. The world is full of it. Everybody feels like victim at the hand of something or the others, with most blame going to fate, god or karma etc.

It is a fact that Tibetans are victims at the hand of Chinese murderers. But its also a fact that Lance Armstrong got cancer. So, how did he handle it? Did he get depressed and gave up on life? It is also a fact that India was colonized for 300yrs. Did Gandhi act like a victim or a fighter? We, Tibetans are victims, but we need to think proactively about how to fight our cause instead of feeling helpless and going out on streets and saying we are victims and urge for international interventions. We’ve come out of this victim mindset of helplessness and use this as opportunity to emerge even stronger, just like Lance Armstrong did. He turned around his situation. I like to use him as an example ‘cos the world doesn’t run its own. Its run by people.

Q5). You seem to have many ideas, but you haven’t followed on them. its easy to say things and there are many people out there giving all sorts of ideas and nonsense. No one will take you seriously if you don’t have anything to show. If you feel you can do something different, then you should do it.

A). I totally agree with the statement. This is one reason why I kept my ideas to myself for several years. But I felt that the situation in Tibet is getting worse and worse each year and my ideas can’t wait. So, while I may not feel competent enough to do it, I decided to write it so that others can follow it if they connect with my ideas. This is not the time to be selfish.

I know my shortcomings fully well and I’m well aware that action is lacking on my part. Hence I fully understand criticism from others and it is well founded. I’m my biggest critic, so the criticisms are not news to me. I try to explore myself from every perspective. But I’m not resting easy as I constantly struggle with myself.

Fear is my greatest enemy and a teacher in disguise, but I haven’t benefitted from my natural teacher yet. So, till then, fear continues to hold me back and I’m unable to commit fully to what I really want to do. Maybe I’m being too realistic and thinking too much, but that is a reality at the moment. There is a constant battle between me and fear. We are our greatest enemy, not China or anybody else, and fear is a part of me.

Humans have a tendency to seek comfort in familiarity and we treat fear in a similar way. Hence, eradicating fear completely requires serious commitment or discipline, and we, especially I, am not always up to it, as we feel content with a temporary lull in fear, and the cycle goes on. Lets see who prevails. The constant struggle can be very tiring and stressful with no decisive results. I feel that spirituality is the way out, but I hesitate to commit fully to it for now as its a part of of long term plan, but not now. There is a fear and uncertainly as well, and one day, I’ve to face my deepest fear, whether I like it or not.

Q6). What is your idea of changing the victim mentality? What plans have you got?

A). So far, I’ve only one real idea of taking the matter in our own hand. My idea is to open a Non-Chinese retail store, to target China’s economy, and hope to make a dent, no matter how small. I don’t want to plan big. I just want to open a small store and start from there. At least, we’ll be doing something on our own, and not begging for help from others.

Q7). Have you got any business plan for that? Do you think it will work?

A). I don’t have any business plan yet and it is a big drawback. It is just an idea at present as I still haven’t committed to it. I’ve no business plan yet, except some general business ideas. About the business, I can’t guarantee it’ll be a success as nothing is certain. I’ll just try and see. As for the idea itself, I think it’ll work as I don’t think anyone has thought about it, even if some may say so. There is an untapped market for modern conscious consumers or consumers with conscience, just like there is a growing market for eco-conscious consumers with many eco-friendly products coming out in market. If there are takers for my idea, I’m willing to help.

Q8). Your retail plan can affect the common Chinese people and their business. They are innocent. What is their fault? Why should they suffer? 

A). Although, the boycott of Chinese goods will definitely affect the Chinese economy, and this is what we intend for, this is in no way directed against the common Chinese people. Our target is the repressive, autocratic Chinese gov’t. So, in essence, we are not the problems of Chinese people, the Chinese communist gov’t is. If the Chinese people can overthrow their gov’t, then we’ll remove the boycott. Also, this boycott is not just against China, but against all the repressive regime in the world. We’ll boycott against all the countries with a dictatorship and a repressive regime.

I agree that there are many innocent Chinese people who’ve nothing to do with politics, and boycotting Chinese goods might affect their livelihoods. To any movements, there will always be some losses on both sides. We try to minimize the losses, but we can’t prevent it. If my idea do come to fruition, then I’ll have full sympathy for Chinese people, but nothing more than that as there is a much bigger cause that is more important, and needs to be taken care of. Hopefully, even the ordinary Chinese people might join the struggle against a rouge, brutal and repressive Chinese Communist Gov’t.

Also, boycotting goods is not new to China. Infact, they do it the most. They did it against France in 2008 Beijing Olympics by encouraging people to boycott French retail giant Carrefour department stores in China when the then French President, Nicolas Sarkozy ,declined the offer to attend the opening ceremony. He did changed his stance later on. Must have been due to the pressure. Since Chinese Gov’t has absolute control over the country, its easier to call for boycott. They can easily hire thugs and goons to create protest and riots and cause damage to business operations of the country that they don’t like in China.

They also call for boycott of Japanese goods from time to time due to the sensitive issues of Japanese invasion of China in the early 20th century, but the move wasn’t effective as it hurt Chinese economy as well. China produces most goods in the world and  Japanese goods are made in China, so indirectly China is boycotting their own goods. China has more to lose, not us. China doesn’t care about others when boycotting. So, why should we care about them? But we do care about others. We don’t want to boycott Chinese goods ‘cos we hate Chinese people. We don’t like hurting innocent people. but we are compelled to do it as we’ve stand up for injustice. We are doing it to show our disapproval for the brutal, anti humanitarian actions of China’s Communist Gov’t. We won’t sit silent while China commits crimes and atrocities in Tibet and elsewhere.

Again, a reminder to all the grievances by the China, affected retailers and people. This is not just a boycott, but a movement, a movement for justice, for human rights.

Q9). Because I’m my own critic, I sometimes ask myself if my views are too simplistic in trying to grasp the complex world? You can’t simplify everything.

A). My answer is that the world is indeed very complicated, but it is mainly us, humans, with our superior mind, who messes things up with the wrong use of our intelligence. Deep down, we just want peace and happiness. So, there is nothing complicated about it. Things are simple on the basic level, and we’ve to strengthen our basic foundation first, before we aim for sky.

Q10). What is your reason for supporting Rangzen or independence over the Middle Way policy of seeking genuine autonomy?

A). Before, I was indeed confused about which directions Tibet should go as I wasn’t sure what I want and I also thought that Dalai lama wouldn’t introduce any policy without a thorough review and the use of his immense wisdom. Then one day, while I was reading a Phayul news, there was some debate going on in the comments section, and I was really struck by one comment which said that deep inside their heart, Tibetans yearn for independence, but they chose autonomy on grounds of practicality or feasibility. In short, Independence in heart, autonomy in mind.

This comment was an eye opener for me as I’ve always believed in following the heart. As children, we’ve always been told to dream big and not think about whether dreams can be achieved or not. We just have to give our all to achieve the dream, and leave the rest to fate or god.

We’ve to apply the same principle in everything that we do. We should do things that want to do. Why do we give up on our dreams as we grow up and settle for less, for something more safe? Why don’t we aim to explore our full potential? Why do we give up on ourselves? Why did we give up on independence?

As I recall a famous Tibetan activist, Lhasang Tsering, saying in one video on Tibetan struggle, “Where is it written that independence for Tibet cannot be achieved or that independence is not possible?”. ” Where is it written that middle way is the only way?”

Millions of Tibetan freedom fighters died defending the country after 1959 Chinese  occupation of Tibet. What did they die for? Why are Tibetans continuously rising up and protesting in Tibet at the risk of their lives? Why are people in Tibet going to the extreme lengths to commit self immolations? All the brave Tibetan martyrs till now have certainly didn’t sacrifice their lives to live under the Chinese rule. Under the goal of autonomy, there would be no need to sacrifice lives as that would have been a waste.

As a Tibetan, I’ve full respect and devotion for Dalai lama, and my path of independence is not intended to disrespect him. I’m just following the Buddhist principle that we should all use logic and investigate all the teachings and words of teachers and then a make a decision as to follow it or not. We shouldn’t blindly follow anyone. Even Dalai Lama and Buddha have instructed us to investigate their teachings first, before following them. So, those religious fanatics who accuse independence advocate of being anti Dalai Lama should get their head checked. They are the ones not following Dalai Lama by blindly accepting his policy, not us. Even if some chose middle path after thorough consideration, they shouldn’t sling mud at independence advocates. We’ve the freedom to use our intelligence and make our own decisions. We should respect each others decisions and not belittle the other group.

I want to conclude with an inspirational quote from Albert Einstein. “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

In short, “Be the Change” and do something about it. And do something with a proactive approach, not passive.