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Debate over Tibet’s freedom lands Young Tibetans in dilemma

Parents in Dharamsala worry that their Hindi-speaking children are too Indian, while new arrivals from Tibet to Dharamsala struggle to fit in

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Dalai Lama. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
– by Ranjuaery Dhadwal 

August 24, 2016:
If Tibet gets independence today, will the new English speaking generation prefer to go to their own country? The question that haunts the older generation.
Especially the generation which came to India with or after Dalai Lama. The generation, which was born in Tibet and fled to India or other parts of the world are worried that the  Tibetan language is only left in few phrases in younger generation’s memory. Now the trend is that more and more Tibetans want their children to remain in India because it has more cultural proximity with Tibet.
Indian Government has opened up Central schools in almost all the Tibetan settlements in India, where Tibetan Language is taught. It’s been more than 60 years since the first wave of Tibetans fled Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh following a failed uprising against Chinese Communist Party rule and the subsequent brutal military crackdown.
Representational Image: Tibetan Teachings Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Representational Image: Tibetan Teachings. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Roughly 85,000 people who first fled Tibet mainly clustered around a central core, built around Dharamsala and the Dalai Lama; in the mountains of India, Nepal, and Bhutan- next to their homeland. Now after three decades, new chapter for Tibetans living outside has emerged. As the prospects of returning to Tibet is diminishing, more and more Tibetans are adopting refugee life in South Asia for the West. Tibetan Government in Exile’s lobbying has arranged for large-scale resettlement programs that bring in hundreds of immigrants every day.

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Dalai Lama says that intermarriage for Tibetans was inevitable but Tibetan language and culture is important and needs to be preserved. Some of them have married Western and Indian women and are having half-Tibetan children. Most of the young Tibetan women too prefer to marry western or Indian people for a settled life.

In an interview Dalai Lama said that had he adopted the path of violence for Tibet’s independence, the Tibetan race would have extinct, rather he is approaching the middle way path for Tibet. Within the community, Tibetan Youth Congress is demanding total independence from China.

The present scenario is that Children born in India or in west are not aware of their culture or traditions. They are basically Americanized or Indianized. Most of them are into higher studies instead of joining the freedom struggle. One of the youngsters in Dharmashala has got his MBA from the University of Oregon, in entrepreneurship. He will decide whether or not to go back to Tibet once it gets independence. At present, he wants to start his own venture. He said, even if they go back to Tibet, they have to start from scratch. Though they show their love for Tibet but there is a disconnect between knowing what you are and actively feeling that way.

Mixed-race Tibetans that came or are coming to India or going to other parts of the world are grappling with issues that how they will fit into the Tibetan cause- how to preserve a sense of connection to a far-flung homeland and how to handle the perception that they are contributing to the community that still feels like it must fight to preserve itself. There is clearly an existencial crisis among these people. They are living in a era when a community, which was recognized for its cultural preservation (even though Beijing has destroyed many of the hallmarks of its culture) these people are struggling to know what exactly constitutes authentic Tibetan-ness.

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Parents in Dharamsala worry that their Hindi-speaking children are too Indian, while new arrivals from Tibet to Dharamsala struggle to fit in. Most of them only say that they have come to learn English. Some of mixed-race Tibetans has struggled to find their footing as well.

Tibetan welfare officer says, Young Tibetans would grow too concerned with money and they would give up on the goal of e returning to the Tibet. The Tibetan government continues to lobby Western governments to take in more of those currently living in South Asian settlements. Tashi  Phuntsok, says that he has been urging Tibetan families to keep up the language with their children and make sure they remember where they came from.

Ex Tibetan Youth Congress President Tseten Norbu says, that it should be the main object of the Youth Congress. This is the only organization which has proximity with young Tibetans. He further mentions that, since the Himchal Government has given voting rights to the Tibetans born here or are half Tibetan, hope of returning to Tibet of this generation is diminishing.

– Ranjuaery is a freelance contributer and can be contacted at ranjuaery@gmail.com

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Fear of Leprosy Resurgence in Nepal

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper

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Leprosy, Wikimedia

Health officials in Nepal fear leprosy resurgence in the country with prevalence rate reaching 0.94 per cent in 2018.

Leprosy-free status was given to the Himalayan nation after it declared elimination of the disease in 2009. However, that status could be lost if prevalence rate reaches one per cent of total population, Kathmandu Post reported on Thursday.

Experts already fear that this marks the resurgence of the disease in Nepal. The percentage could be more, an official said, as the current given figures have been derived just from preliminary data.

The Leprosy Control and Disability (LCD) section of Epidemiology and Disease Control Division (EDCD) of Department of Health Services said that the prevalence rate was 0.92 and 0.89 in 2017 and 2016, respectively, the news report said.

“It will be a great setback for the country if it loses the status,” said Rabindra Baskota, a doctor and chief of the LCD section.

Incubation period of leprosy varies from one to 20 years and diagnosis of more patients could help stop the further spread of the disease, according to him.

An amputated leg, claw toes and claw hands of leprosy patient Gopal Bag are seen at the Leprosy Mission Trust India hospital. Kolkata. VOA

“It will take only a couple of years to reach one percent if this upward trend continues,” he added.

The prevalence rate is over one per cent in various districts of the Tarai region, Baskota said, adding that the country had received the leprosy eliminated status, after reducing its prevalence rate by 0.77 per cent, in 2009.

Sishir Silwal, a focal person for the leprosy control programme in Gulmi district, said regular review meetings for leprosy, which should be held every four months, has not been held for the last eight months.

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Kathmandu Post quoted Bibek Kumar Lal, Director at EDCD, as saying that there is a severe crunch in manpower that hinders proper functioning.

There are only three staff working in the leprosy section and the same team looks after the disability programme, as well, he told the newspaper.

Leprosy, a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae, is transmitted through nasal secretion or from droplets from the mouth. It affects the skin, peripheral nerves and eyes, leading to disfigurement and nerve damage. The disease is curable with a multi-drug therapy. (IANS)