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Cyberspace abuzz ahead of polls to the Tibetan parliament-in-exile

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Photo Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

Dharamsala: Cyberspace is abuzz with activity ahead of the primaries to shortlist candidates for the Tibetan parliament-in-exile.

Photo Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk
Photo Credit: www.telegraph.co.uk

Even as the voting is two months away, almost 100 second generation Tibetans have already declared their nominations for the 45-seat parliament-in-exile.

Posters of smart-looking young Tibetans, both men and women, are widely shared and commented on social networks and also adorn the walls of McLeodganj, where thousands of Tibetans and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, have been living for over half a century.

Smartphone apps like Wechat and Whatsapp are hugely used within the community.

“Technology is the new means; now we connect with the candidates directly. We don’t have to wait for newspaper advertisements to make our choice,” Tashi, a local resident and an avid social networker, told IANS.

“It’s a colorful season. So many people are declaring their nominations. Every other day we see a new nomination. Facebook is full of new faces of aspiring politicians,” he added.

Activists, social workers, businessmen, teachers and even civil service staff from the Tibetan administration are in the fray.

The primaries to nominate candidates for the Sikyong, or political leader (previously called the prime minister), and the 16th parliament-in-exile, comprising 45 members, will be held on October 18, while the general elections will be held on March 20 next year.

An election campaign poster of Namgyal Dolker, 32, a woman law graduate who runs an NGO here, reads she has both the university education and experience of working in the community.

Tibetan Settlement Officer Sonam Dorjee, who calls himself the Tibetan mayor, boasts of his close contacts with the Indian community, while Kunchok Yarphel, 40, and Lhakpa Tsering talk about their experience of working in the Tibetan Youth Congress, the largest Tibetan NGO.

While the youngsters flood the social networks, the elders who do not use smart phones are quietly doing the rounds of the refugee camps speaking to people individually, making sure of their support.

“This time, I see more youngsters from Tibet contesting elections than those born in exile, and some nominees are explicitly campaigning for ‘rangzen’ or independence as their political stand,” political observer Tenzin Nyendak told IANS.

The minimum age for voting is 18 years, while the minimum age for contesting the elections is 25 years.

Besides the parliamentary elections, the Tibetan prime minister’s or political leader’s elections are simultaneously happening.

The duration of both the parliament and the prime minister’s term is five years.

Tibetan Voters in India, Nepal, Bhutan, the US, Europe, Australia, Japan, Russia, and other countries will take part in the elections.

The Dalai Lama, 80, has lived in India since 1959 when he fled his homeland after a failed uprising against Communist rule. The Tibetan administration is based here.

Some 140,000 Tibetans live in exile around the world, over 100,000 of them in India.

(IANS)

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‘Dalai Lama is a Political Figure under the cloak of Religion, Meeting or Hosting the Dalai Lama is a major offence’ Warns China

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing.

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Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama, Wikimedia

Beijing, October 21, 2017 : As US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to visit India next week, China on Saturday warned that it will be deeply offended if any foreign leader meets with or any country invites the Dalai Lama.

On the sidelines of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a Chinese Minister dubbed the Tibetan spiritual leader as a “political figure under the cloak of religion”.

“Any country or any organisation or anyone accepting to meet with the Dalai Lama in our view is a major offence to the sentiment of the Chinese people,” said Zhang Yijiong, Executive Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

“Also, since they have committed to recognising China as a sole legitimate government representing China, it contravenes their attempt, because it is a serious commitment,” Zhang added.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of stoking unrest and secessionist activities in Tibet from where the spiritual leader fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising.

The Dalai Lama has urged for more autonomy for Tibet.

Beijing opposes any country or leader keeping in touch with the Dalai Lama.

“I want to make it clear that the 14th Dalai Lama, the living Buddha handed down by history is a political figure under the cloak of religion,” said Zhang.

In February this year, Tillerson had told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing that he is committed to promoting dialogue on Tibet and receiving the Dalai Lama.

Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi had visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in May, and sought to draw the world’s attention to human rights in Tibet, triggering protests by China.

China resorts to different tactics if any country hosts the Dalai Lama. For instance, Beijing blocked a major highway leading to Mongolia, crippling the economy there after Ulan Bator hosted the leader late last year.

Mongolia later apologised and promised Beijing never to invite the Dalai Lama.

“Officials, in their capacity as officials, attending all foreign-related activities represent their governments. So I hope governments around the world speak and act with caution and give full consideration to their friendship with China and their respect for China’s sovereignty,” Zhang added.

The comments from the Chinese Minister also comes days after Tillersoon described India as a partner in a strategic relationship and said the US would “never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society”.

According to reports, last month China refused to fund travel for visiting scholars at University of California, San Diego, apparently in retaliation for inviting the Dalai Lama to be its 2017 commencement speaker.

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing. (IANS)

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Dalai Lama on Three Day Visit to Manipur

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Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama will be in Manipur on Tuesday. ians

Imphal, October 16: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will arrive here on Tuesday on a three-day visit to Manipur, officials said.

This will be his second trip to India’s northeast after his April visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh told IANS on Monday that the government had declared the Dalai Lama a state guest.

“We will extend a warm welcome to him. He will be given all facilities as an honoured guest,” he said.

On Wednesday, the Dalai Lama will be given a public reception at the Convention Centre here. It will be followed by a felicitation programme at the same venue.

The Dalai Lama will interact with members of the public and dignitaries.

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in India in self-imposed exile since fleeing his homeland in 1959, is coming to Manipur at the invitation of the Speaker of the Manipur Assembly.

His Arunachal Pradesh visit had sparked a diplomatic row between India and China.(IANS)

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“Indians Ought to Take Pride in Their Buddhist Heritage” says Tibetan Legal Scholar and Politician Lobsang Sangay

Tibetan Buddhism across the Himalayas is intangible and therefore indestructible but so is the Indian Buddhism. It's about time we start taking pride in our Buddhist roots.

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Prayer Wheels in Buddhism
Buddhism in India. Pixabay

New Delhi, July 31, 2017: Tibet is the autonomous region of the Republic of China and due to the Sino-Indian standoff, Tibet is at the heart of political differences between these regions. However, the interview talked majorly about the cultural exchanges between India and Tibet. Upon being asked whether Momo is a Tibetian delicacy or not, Sikyong immediately certified with affirmation, as the term itself suggests meat filled dumpling in Tibet.

“Indeed, the origin of Buddhism and the provenance of the momo can be seen as two immutable truths that bind Tibet and India together forever. Others can claim them and offer seemingly convincing arguments but we know better. Buddhism, taken to Tibet from India from the 7th century onwards–most importantly by monks from the ancient Nalanda university–is now an inextricable part of the Tibetan people. And momos have become as intrinsic a part of India ever since Tibetans and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled Chinese occupation to seek refuge, appropriately, in the land of Buddha’s birth.” Lobsang Sangay said.

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“It may be also germane to remember that at its peak from the 7th to the 9th centuries, the Tibetan Empire was bigger than the Chinese one and extended as far south as Bengal and north to Turkmenistan, Mongolia, and Siberia. Maybe momos traveled along with Tibetan Buddhism to those areas, both morphed into local variants and then journeyed beyond.” He further added.

It was a remarkable revelation that Buddhism culture is more widespread than one would think, fourteen countries being a Buddhist majority, while the total number of Buddhists around the world account for a total of 500 million people who are spread across 52 countries in total. Buddhism is said to have its roots in India, while it’s celebrated around the world and enjoys immense popularity we Indians are yet to embrace the fact that Buddhism, in fact, is an integral part of our culture and to protect the culture is our responsibility.

Indians should take pride in their Buddhist culture Click To Tweet

Not only Tibetian but ancient Buddhist scriptures and commentaries by Indian scholars constitute an inconvertible link between India and Buddhists across Asia. Tibetian scholarly works are majorly based on and influenced by the references in the Indian scriptures, hundreds of books are written and preserved in Tibetian monasteries.

According to Sikyong, Buddhism in Indian origin is not emphasized enough and the links are blinded by the strong Asian narratives compounded by their inexplicable official resistance.

What could be more indicative of this indifference than the lament of a former Sri Lankan envoy to India that precious relics of the Buddha languish in closed quarters at the Indian Museum in Calcutta. We Indians must take pride in our Buddhist heritage too and build on the myriad cultural and emotional links with other nations that it offers, as the benefits are obvious.

Based on the blog Silk Stalkings in Economic Times.

Prepared by Nivedita Motwani. Twitter @Mind_Makeup


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