Arunachal Pradesh: Wading into a foreign policy issue for the first time, Narendra Modi on Saturday asked China to shed its “expansionist mindset”, making it clear that no power on earth can snatch Arunachal Pradesh from India.
“China should shed its expansionist policy and forge bilateral ties with India for peace, progress and prosperity of both the nations,” the BJP prime ministerial candidate said addressing a meeting in Pasighat in his current election campaign.
“Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and will always remain so. No power can snatch it from us. People of Arunachal Pradesh didn’t come under pressure or fear of China,” he said.
“I swear in the name of this soil that I will never allow the state to disappear...breakdown and to bow down,” Mr. Modi said to a thunderous applause from people gathered near the mighty Siang River.
He said China should shed its expansionist mindset because the world of today does not accept it. The entire world is moving towards development, he said.
“China needs to change its stand. China should shed its expansionist mindset and adopt the plank of development. Focus is on the development all over the world,” the Gujarat Chief Minister said.
Lauding the patriotic nature of the people, Modi said that because of the people, who were guarding the state as well as the country as sentinels, Arunachal remained an integral part of the country.
“The people here are real patriots as they salute their counterparts with ‘Jai Hind’ and are zealously protecting the state’s territory..... They gave a befitting reply to the advancing Chinese army during 1962 and the British and several army personnel from the state also fought with Pakistan during the Kargil war,” he said.
While directly referring to the January 29 murder of Arunachal Pradesh youth Nido Tania in Delhi, Modi cautioned the UPA government against underestimating the people of the state and added that it was the duty of the entire nation to protect the people and the state’s territorial integrity.
(PTI, February 22, 2014)
Exclusive interview: A Journalist Perspective on Tibetan Struggle for Freedom
Tibet Telegraph caught up with Vijay Kranti, a long time supporter of Tibet and a senior Indianjournalist who has extensively written about Tibet and Tibetan life. In an exclusive question answer session, the interview touches a variety of issues but the focus is given to highlight how he sees the Tibetan issue through the lenses of his political eyes and his camera.
1) Are you more of Indian or Tibetan or just a journalist or maybe an activist?
I must underline that Tibet is one of many subjects on which I've focused and written in my over four decade long professional life as a journalist and photographer. But Tibet has occupied over 80 percent of my mindscape during this period. Now to answer your question, I would say that I am an Indian who is a professional journalist with deep interest in Tibet. My interest in Tibet has encouraged me strongly to know more and more about the Tibetan issue and try to understand the Tibetan people and their thinking process. I may sometimes sound like a Tibet 'activist' because I strongly support the Tibetan national cause. But this 'support' comes more from my realization of the truth about the Tibetan people's case as an inquisitive researcher and journalist than any 'activism'. But despite this 'support' there is also a strong element of detachment which I must practice as a journalist to write independently and frankly on Tibet.
2) How did you start your interest in Tibet as a journalist and photographer? How would you define your relationship with the Tibetan community?
It started from a professional encounter. A popular Indian Hindi news magazine (Saptahik Hindustan) assigned me in late 1972 to do a news feature on the Tibetan refugee community in India. I was just a beginner in the profession. Getting a cover story assignment in the first two years of my professional work was a very big challenge. This assignment also included an interview with HH the Dalai Lama. The exercise involved some research work on the Tibetan issue, a personal interaction with HH the Dalai Lama and meetings with many Tibetan refugees, especially the contemporary Tibetan youth leaders.
I was deeply touched by the personality of HH the Dalai Lama and his commitment towards his country and people. Tibetan youth leaders' commitment and energy too was the other element which attracted me to their cause.
On photography? Interestingly, I was too short of money to hire a photographer for this news feature. So I decided to do it myself on a borrowed camera. The layout artist (late TULIKI ji) of the magazine was so happy with my photos that he encouraged me to take photography seriously. He published 17 of my photos with this cover story. It was Tuliki ji's encouragement and guidance that I've been able to document Tibetan life on my camera during past four decades.
3) Since you have been associated with the Tibetan cause for over forty years now, how do you describe the struggle of Tibetans and where do you see Tibet in next twenty years? Which country do you honestly think has a soft corner for the Tibetan issue?
Tibetan struggle 'so far' is one of the most outstanding 'success stories' of recent human history. The most interesting and inspiring part of this story belongs to the Tibetan people living inside Tibet under the Chinese colonial control. Despite all repression and inhuman treatment at the hands of one of the most ruthless colonial regimes of documented human history, Tibetan people inside today's Tibet have maintained their determination and national spirit. Rather, it has increased over past six decades of occupation. I wish the exile community could also imbibe this level of collective commitment and focus towards the national cause of Tibet.
In exile the Tibetan community's greatest achievement is their success in reorganizing themselves as a disciplined and organized community. They have successfully revived their national identity and culture from the verge of near complete extinction. This could happen mainly because of the vision and positive leadership of HH the Dalai Lama and Tibetan people's faith in him. These, supported by the evolution of a democratic system and social organization in exile, is capable of keeping the Tibetan identity and Tibetan national aspirations alive for a very long period - far beyond next twenty years.
However, all this will depend exclusively on the levels of wisdom, commitment and capabilities of the future democratic leadership in exile. The Tibetan community must now ensure good health, strength and flexibility of the recently adopted democratic system.
4) It looks like most of the Tibetan activists for independence don't really have a direct-link with the Tibetans inside Tibet whereas most of the Tibetans standing for autonomy seem are those whose parents or grandparents are still in Tibet under the Chinese oppression. Since Tibetans standing for autonomy can have better understanding or feeling of the plight of the Tibetans inside Tibet as they have to worry about their parents or grandparents every minute, don't you think that their stand is being emotionally black mailed by the situation?
I find it very difficult to agree with the assumption that those Tibetans in exile who are in favour of 'independence' (Rangzen) have lesser knowledge of the feelings of Tibetans living inside Tibet as compared to those whose stand for 'autonomy' (under Chinese constitution) . Luckily I've personal firsthand experience of travelling extensively inside Tibet during my recent private photo expeditions as an ordinary 'tourist'. I could manage to travel over 5000 km on land through Kham, Amdo, U-Tsand and some other adjoining parts of Chinese provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai in these visits. The overwhelming universal feeling of ordinary Tibetan towards the Chinese government is of deep unhappiness, hatred and anger. Not a single Tibetan I met inside Tibet during these visits told me that he/she was happy with Chinese rule over Tibet. Chinese call Tibet as 'Tibet AUTONOMOUS Region'. But ordinary Tibetans strongly dislike this authonomy.
Tibetans across the world also have now documented evidence of more than 120 (124 till this day) self immolations by Tibetans inside Chinese occupied Tibet. There is not even a single case among these self immolations in which the dying Tibetan was asking for 'autonomy' within Chinese system. Each one of these burning Tibetans was expressing only two dreams in the last moments of his/her life -- 'FREEDOM' for Tibet and 'RETURN OF H H THE DALAI LAMA' to Tibet. For me the dying statements of these brave Tibetans are the most distinct expression of what an ordinary Tibetan living under Chinese occupation today thinks of Tibet and its relations with China. This, very sadly, is in sharp contrast to the double standards and convenient expressions of an influential section among the elite exiles who are trying to redefine relations between Tibet and China on the basis of their personal future comforts and ambitions.
I hope I am not over stepping my limits if I say that the exile community today is divided into three distinct sections on this debate of 'Rangzen-vs-Autonomy'. One is the much 'maligned' pro-Rangzen section which is comprised of a major section of independently thinking Tibetan individuals. Despite a systematic campaign of misinformation against them, they stand on the strength of their commitment and the courage of conviction. The pro-Autonomy section is distinctly divided into two groups -- the majority among this group is comprised of those well meaning ordinary Tibetans who have deep faith in HH the Dalai Lama. They respectfully support 'autonomy' without any questioning simply because HH opted to test the idea of 'Genuine Autonomy' as his first choice in dealing with an adamant Chinese regime. Although I don't agree with this group, yet I respect this group's faith in HH Dalai Lama. I am sure that this group will be the first to change their opinion on the day when Chinese leaders' conduct will finally convince HH the Dalai Lama that the Chinese neither valued nor deserved his extraordinary concession of 'autonomy' over 'Rangzen'.
The third among these Tibetan groups is seemingly a united front of a section among the Tibetan elite that has been used to comforts and gains which came automatically to them simply because of their traditional elite positions. The extraordinary enthusiasm of this group to patch up with Beijing in the name of any level of autonomy 'within the Chinese system' appears to originates from the fear that they don't see any chances for themselves in the new environment of democratic competition which HH Dalai Lama has very wisely gifted to the Tibetan nation.
Interestingly, this third section is closely supported and joined by a sizeable section of those western governments and agencies who enthusiastically present a pro-Tibet facade. But their actual history shows that they would not hesitate sacrificing Tibetan interests for some petty business and political interests in their deals with the Beijing regime. Tibetan community needs to probe seriously how some of these organizations have damaged the Tibetan cause by systematically brainwashing and weaning away the Tibetan youth leadership from Rangzen to autonomy through chains of five-star workshops and projects funded with foreign money from their respective governments.
5) A section of Indian media once had described the Karmapa money scandal as a link to Beijing. As a journalist, how do you describe the scandal? Was it just a frenzy of media speculation or do you smell some dirty political hands behind the scandal?
Looking back at those unfortunate events, I think the entire episode was more a result of a chain of mistakes on the part of almost all players than a well orchestrated scandal by any specific group. My assessment is that it was caused by a messed up and poor handling of a routine land transaction which was aimed at building a monastery by the Karma Pa establishment in Dharamsala. Instead of handling through a proper bank transaction in a legal and transparent manner, the deal, amounting to millions of Indian Rupees, was transacted in cash just because local laws don't permit a refugee establishment to purchase land in Himachal Pradesh. It is now believed that business rivalries between some local land dealers in Dharamsala also contributed further towards making this matter more complicated.
The matter took a more complex turn when the police found large amounts of cash in the form of currencies of over a dozen countries, including Chinese currency, from the building of HH Karma Pa. Later it was realized that this cash trove was actually result of accumulating cash donations which visiting devotees from various countries have been offering to HH Karma Pa over past many years. Legally speaking, the personal managers of His Holiness were supposed to have maintained this money in the form of a proper bank account after keeping the Indian government authorities informed about receipt of foreign currencies. It is well known that the official procedures of taking permission for receiving foreign currency donations are quite complex in India. But this failure on the part of managers in completing this process caused an avoidable embarrassment to His Holiness Karma Pa. Luckily the matter was settled by the justice delivery system of the State in favour of HH Karma Pa.
It is also unfortunate that improper handling of the media by some local authorities, including some police officials, added to the confusion which ended up in a series of sensational TV coverage of the event in initial days. This episode also exposed the poor levels of media relations on the part of Karma Pa establishment. In a country like India where any reference to China is treated with public alarm, it was not unnatural that discovery of Chinese currency received more media attention than far larger amounts in other world currencies.
6) How Tibetans can challenge the Chinese propaganda through media? And what do you think about the Tibetan media in exile? Shouldn't the Dalai Lama have reserved some half of his Templeton prize to boost the Tibetan media?
Although the Tibetan resources are no match to the Chinese propaganda machinery, yet the overall media coverage on Tibet in the world media has been, in general, more pro Tibet than pro China over past many years. But this is more because of the general pro-Tibet attitude of world media than a result of Tibetan efforts. Luckily the advent of internet has proved a great democratic leveller. The collective impact of media efforts by the exile Tibetan establishment, independent Tibetan websites and Tibet supporters across the world has been quite impressive. As a professional journalist, I am a great admirer of the efforts made by individual Tibetans and their groups in communicating the Tibetan case through a vast chain of innumerable websites.
I don't believe that HH the Dalai Lama should have given a part of his Templeton prize money to the Tibetan media. As much as I understand, the main problem of Tibetan media (in exile) is not the shortage of money. It is lack of professionalism and active interaction with the professional media of the world. There is a serious need of professional training for Tibetan journalists. More than anything else, the Tibetan media in exile badly needs to rescue itself from the vicious circle of poor economics, patronage and timidness.
7) Recently you have published a cartoon book on the Dalai Lama entitled Dalai Lama, the soldier of peace. Can you briefly describe the book?
I've written and published this book with a very specific purpose. For past over 40 years I have been strongly feeling the absence of a simple book or some other communication tool which can present the Tibetan case convincingly in very simple language and in an entertaining manner to any new person. There has been alwaysthe need of an interesting story book which can attract any normal person to read it till the end; enjoy it and; understand the story of Tibet and Dalai Lama with the same effect as any Tibet supporter or Tibet support group (TSG) would like the world to understand the case of Tibet and Tibetan people. I always hoped to see a book which can singularly and effectively handle the work of a TSG. Finally, I decided to do it myself.
In this book I've simply retold the story of Tibet through the story of present Dalai Lama. It tells the reader how Tibetans identify the little baby who is reborn as the reincarnate of the previous Dalai Lama after the latter's death. It tells in simple words how China occupied Tibet. It also tells the thrilling escape story of present Dalai Lama in all lucid details following Chinese Army's attempts to arrest or kill the Dalai Lama.
I am very happy that every single feedback and reaction so far has proven that this book matches these expectations. For many reasons, especially official indifference in Dharamsala, this book has yet to succeed on the finance front. But, as always, I am a hard fighter. I am soon going to launch a number of language editions of this book in the new year (2014). If things go as my team is hoping, the Tibetan edition will be launched by coming Losar. And the Hindi and Spanish editions should follow soon. But keeping in view a near disastrous financial response to the first English edition, I will publish the Tibetan edition only after I've received enough advance orders. I've also plans to launch the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and French editions --- provided I can find suitable partners or some enthusiastic TSGs to join hands.
8) H.H. the Dalai Lama in recent months has publicly stated that China's policy towards Tibet is looseningup despite Beijing's objection that nothing has changed. What makes His Holiness so positive about the new leadership in Beijing?
I am a great admirer of HH Dalai Lama for his positive and hopeful approach towards everyone, including the Chinese leadership. But I am equally aware of the negative, rather dismissive and arrogant response of the Chinese leaders towards him. This has been going on right from the days when he adopted the policy of dialogue with Beijing in late 1970s. Many times I am confused when HH Dalai Lama praises the Chinese leaders on a ground which the Chinese refute blatantly immediately. This present case also does not appear to be different. Sometimes I feel that this praise is one of his humble Buddhist ways of reminding the Chinese leadership what acts they are supposed to do.
I've seen His Holiness admiring Mao, Deng and many other leaders on such assumptions which later on proved to have originated either from his own good heart or from misinformation fed to him by some vested interests. I don't think his positive opinion about Xi Jinping and his new team has any different reason this time. In reality there is nothing on record which shows that Xi Jinping thinks any different way on Tibet as compared to most of his predecessors. Unfortunately, such positive statements of His Holiness have many times resulted into causing more confusion among Tibetan masses and Tibet supporters than generating any positive vibes in the minds of Chinese leadership.
9) What changes would you like to see in the exile Tibetan community?
I would love to see some basic changes in the personal and collective attitude of major Tibetan action groups as well as the Tibetan bureaucracy in exile. Over past forty years I've sadly seen some of the best Tibetan organizations and individuals suffering from a disease which I've termed as the 'Gaggal Syndrome'. Competition among Tibetan groups like TYC, TWA, SFT, Gu-Chu-Sum and NDPT to perform better than each other in Dharamsala or other Tibetan settlements is a welcome sign. But taking this competition to the levels of rivalry and non-cooperation with each other while working among non-Tibetan communities is very undesirable and self defeating. Unfortunately this tendency has been frequently on show at many places in the past. I wish that every Tibetan, as individual or organization, should conduct only as a 'Tibetan' when they are working in Delhi, New York or any other place. Their internal competition should vanish after they have crossed Gaggal which happens to be the last village after you drive out of Dharamsala. That's why I call this ailment as 'Gaggal Syndrome.'
On the bureaucracy front, many friends of Tibet like me are shocked to observe feudal tendencies and official arrogance among a substantial section of Tibetan officialdom in exile. Not only that they demonstrate these tendencies frequently towards ordinary Tibetans in their official dealings, but it is not uncommon to see many among them demonstrating same bureaucratic rudeness in similar situations to outsiders, including those who are old friends and well known supporters of Tibet. I wish they could borrow at least a fraction of humility which HH Dalai Lama demonstrates every day in his dealings with others.
10) Do you have any message for the budding Tibetan journalists in exile?
The main job of Tibetan journalists, including the budding ones, is to keep their respective audiences well informed on developments and issues related to Tibet. A good professional journalist can do this effectively only if he/she has the eye and motivation to find the truth and the courage to tell it to the audience. A journalist's job is not to act like a postman by transferring information from some important people to the Tibetan masses. He/she must understand the purpose and motivation behind release of any such information and must also analyse the impact of this information on the Tibetan issue and the society.
Younger Tibetan journalists should seriously focus on developing the art and habit of asking questions. Unfortunately questioning is not considered 'polite' in the traditional Tibetan society. It is even labelled as 'improper' and 'indiscipline' if someone asks questions, especially when the questions are inconvenient and are aimed at higher authorities. This looks very 'anti' Buddhism because this religion encourages questioning more than most other religions.
Tibetans are lucky that they have a leader like HH Dalai Lama who has shown the courage and magnanimity of handing over his own political powers to elected leaders so that democracy can grow its roots in the Tibetan society. Tibetan journalists should realize that asking questions and analysing issue without fear or favour is the best way of showing respect to the faith of Dalai Lama in democracy. Indian media's unfortunate experience of emergency period (1975-77) has proved beyond doubt that obeying the leaders timidly and unquestioningly in the name of 'discipline' or 'unity' is the most dangerous path towards destruction of social and national interests as well as the spirit of democracy. Tibetan exile society cannot afford this mistake.
തിബത്തൻ 'വെണ്ണ ശിൽപശാല' തിരുവനന്തപുരത്ത്
2014 ജനുവരി 31 മുതൽ നാലുദിവസം നീണ്ടു നിൽക്കുന്ന തിബത്തൻ 'വെണ്ണശിൽപശാല' (Butter Sculpture-Making Session) അഭയാർത്ഥിയും പ്രമുഖ ബുദ്ധമഠമായ ഗ്യുമോ താന്ത്രിക് സർവ്വകലാശാലയിലെ അംഗവുമായ അഭിവന്ദ്യ തുപ്തൻ ഗെടുൻ (Venerable Thupten Gedun) നയിക്കുന്നു.
തിരുവനന്തപുരം ടെക്നോപാർക്കിൽ സ്ഥിതി ചെയ്യുന്ന 'ഫയർ ഇൻ ദ് ബെല്ലി'യും (Fire In The Belly) 'ഫ്രെണ്ട്സ് ഓഫ് തിബത്ത് ഫൌണ്ടേഷൻ ഫോർ ദ് വെൽബീയിങും' ചേർന്ന് സംയുക്തമായി സംഘടിപ്പിക്കുന്ന ഈ അപൂർവ്വ ശിൽപശാല രാവിലെ പത്തുമുതൽ രാത്രി എട്ടു വരെ ടെക്നോപാർക് ഭവാനിയിൽ 'ഫയർ ഇൻ ദ് ബെല്ലി' റസ്റ്റൊറന്റിൽ വെച്ച് നടക്കുന്നതാണ്. 1949 മുതൽ പത്തുവർഷം നീണ്ടു നിന്ന ചൈനയുടെ തിബത്ത്`അധിനിവേശം മൂലം നഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന വിവിധ തിബത്തൻ കലാപൈതൃകങ്ങളെ പ്രവാസത്തിൽ സംരക്ഷിക്കുകയും അവയെ ജനങ്ങൾക്കിടയിൽ എത്തിക്കുകയും എന്ന ഉദ്ദേശ്യത്തോടെ മുംബൈ ആസ്ഥാനമായി പ്രവർത്തിക്കുന്ന 'ഫ്രെണ്ട്സ് ഓഫ് തിബത്ത്' സംഘടനയുടെ വിവധ പദ്ധതികളിൽ ഒന്നാണ് 'വെൽബീയിങ്'.
വിശിഷ്ടവും സവിശേഷവുമായ ഈ വെണ്ണശിൽപങ്ങൾ ഒരു പക്ഷേ ലോകത്തിന്റെ മേൽക്കൂര എന്നറിയപ്പെടുന്ന തിബത്തിൽ മാത്രം കാണാൻ കഴിയുന്ന ഒരു ബുദ്ധമതാചാരകലയാണ്. ഫെബ്രുവരി/മാർച്ച് മാസം തിബത്തുകാർ ആഘോഷിക്കുന്ന 'ലൊസാർ' (Losar) എന്ന പുതുവർഷ ഉത്സവത്തോടനുബന്ധിച്ചാണ് വെണ്ണശിൽപങ്ങൾ സാധാരണ നിർമ്മിക്കുന്നത്. ബുദ്ധമതത്തിൽ പ്രാധാന്യമർഹിക്കുന്ന ദേവതമാരെയും പ്രതീകങ്ങളെയും ആസ്പദമാക്കിയാണ് വിവിധ വർണ്ണങ്ങളിൽ ശിൽപങ്ങൾ തീർക്കുന്നത്. സമുദ്രനിരപ്പിൽ നിന്നും വളരെയധികം ഉയരത്തിൽ സ്ഥിതി ചെയ്യുന്ന തിബത്തിൽപോലും വെണ്ണയിൽ ശിൽപങ്ങൾ നിർമ്മിക്കാൻ ബുദ്ധഭിക്ഷുക്കൾ നന്നേ പാടുപെടാറുണ്ട്. പൂർത്തിയായ ശിൽപങ്ങൾ തടിയിൽ തീർത്ത പ്രതലങ്ങളിലാണ് പിന്നീട് സ്ഥാപിക്കുക. ഇരുപത്തിനാലു മണിക്കൂർ മാത്രം നീണ്ടു നിൽക്കുന്ന 'ലൊസാർ' ഉത്സവദിവസം ഉച്ചയോടെയാണ് ഇവ പ്രദർശിപ്പിക്കുക പതിവ്. ഈ വെണ്ണശിൽപങ്ങളെ കാണാനും ആരാധിക്കുവാനും എത്തുന്ന തിബത്തുകാരെ സ്വീകരിക്കാൻ വെണ്ണയിൽ ജ്വലിക്കുന്ന ആയിരം ദ്വീപങ്ങളും ബുദ്ധഭിക്ഷുക്കൾ അവരുടെ ആരാധനായങ്ങളിൽ ഒരുക്കാറുണ്ടായിരുന്നത്രെ.
2014 മാർച്ചിൽ വരാനിരിക്കുന്ന 'ലൊസാർ' ഉത്സവദിവസത്തിന്റെ മുന്നോടിയായാണ് അനന്തപുരിയിൽ തിബത്തൻ ബുദ്ധഭിക്ഷുവിന്റെ ഈ അപൂർവ്വ കലാവിരുന്ന്.
'വെണ്ണ ശിൽപശാല' - പ്രവേശനം സൗജന്യം.
കുടുതൽ വിവരങ്ങങ്ങൾക്ക്: 9995181777, 9847044248
Guwahati to host Festival of Tibetan Art and Culture in February 2014
Guwahati, January 7, 2014 – In the towering Himalayas, between South Asia and China, Tibet had always been in the eyes of the world a country of peace and tranquility, its people deeply attached to their religion and their way of life. A land that was rich, not only in earthly wealth but in the soul of its people, its unique culture deeply rooted in Buddhism, where ritual and prayer marked all aspects of daily life, a land with a simple economy with a limited trade with India and China enough to satisfy the wants of any sturdy independent people.
However, with the invasion of this mysterious land by China in 1959 the peace and tranquility was shaken, the peaceful peasants imprisoned, monasteries destroyed, statues of gods mutilated, monks beaten and made to dance on corpses of fellow Tibetans. The Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama was forced to flee his country, followed by 80,000 Tibetans, to India. Thus began the mass exodus of refugees for the first time in more than 2000 years of Tibetan history.
Today, after more than five decades in exile the Tibetans have not only preserved their religion, culture, language and tradition but also spread the message of peace and love inspired by Tibetan Buddhist culture around the world. There are several people in the Himalayas whose culture has lots of resemblance to the Tibetan culture because of their common origin – Buddhism.
And for the first time, the city of Guwahati or ‘the gateway to Northeast India’ will host a five - day event celebrating this unique culture. “Festival of Tibetan Art and Culture” will be held at the Kalakshetra from February 2 till February 6, 2014. And blessing this historic event is His Holiness the Dalai Lama who had once passed through this city in 1959 after his escape from Tibet via the Khenzimani Pass in Arunachal Pradesh. Also present will be Shri Pema Khandu, Hon’ble Minister of Tourism and Rural Works Development, Government of Arunachal Pradesh and Chairman of the Organizing Committee, and dignitaries from the state of Arunachal and Assam. The Tibetan Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay will grace the Closing ceremony on February 6, 2014.
Visitors can witness Tibetan traditional thangka paintings being drawn by Tibetan artists, enjoy Tibetan cuisine, watch monks create Sand Mandala and butter sculpture, see Tibetan woodcarving art and also buy traditional Tibetan handicraft products made by Tibetan refugees.
Photo Exhibition titled ‘Tibet – A long look homeward’ will display hundreds of rare photographs documenting Tibet’s history, culture, religion, early days of exile and the Tibetan journey from displaced community to a vibrant democracy.
Documentary films on Tibet will also be screened during the five days followed by Q and A sessions. Books on Tibet, its culture, religion and history etc. will also be available for purchase. Doctors from the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute will be available for consultation at medical camps at the festival venue.
The artistes from the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts will perform traditional Tibetan songs and dances. Cultural troupes from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh will also perform their traditional dances at the festival.
Talks & Seminars on Buddhism, Tibetan culture and various other topics by eminent speakers including Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, former Tibetan prime minister and Chancellor of Sanchi University, will also be held.
During the five days, visitors can be part of a unique experience - one that will leave a lasting impression in their minds about the beauty and the sheer magic of Tibetan culture. Through this festival, the organizers hope to bring Tibet closer to the minds of the people of the northeast including the Assamese people. It is a great way of sharing the Buddhist culture and tradition with the people of the northeastern states, and also a wonderful way to build a lasting friendship with our brothers and sisters from the northeast.
Members of the Organizing Committee
- Sh. Pema Khandu, Minister for Tourism & RWD, Arunachal Pradesh, Chairman of the organizing committee
- Ven. Guru Rinpoche, Abbot of Tawang Monastery
- Sh. Karma Yeshi, Member, the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Dharamshala (H.P.)
- Km. Yangchen Dolkar, Member, the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile, Shillong (Meghalaya)
- Sh. Tseten Chombay Kee, President, Yuva Arunachal, Arunachal Pradesh
- Sh. Ranjan Engti, Chief Co-ordinator of Metropolis, Assam
|Gandhi — India's greatest contribution to humanity after Buddha: Ven Prof Samdhong Rinpoche|
(A report by yEldtho Mathew, December 21 & 22, 2013)
Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile delivers his lecture "Satyagraha, Insistence on Truth" at IIT Bombay during the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops on December 21, 2013. The Dandi Salt Satyagraha Memorial is a project of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, advised by a High-Level Dandi Memorial Committee and coordinated and implemented by IIT Bombay in association with an international design team. More about Dandi Memorial Project: www.dandimemorial.org (Photos: Prayag Mukundan)
IIT Bombay: This was the last of the lecture series organised during the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshops held in IIT Bombay. This report covers two talks by Ven Prof Samdhong Rinpoche delivered on 21-22 December 2013, during the concluding ceremonies of the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshops.
Prof Kirti Trivedi, Convener, Dandi Memorial Project, IIT Bombay, formally introduced the acclaimed speaker and distinguished guests. Prof Devang Khakhar, Chairman, IIT Bombay chaired the meeting and Prof Juzer Vasi, Convener, Institute Dandi Memorial Project Committee offered the Welcome Speech. While delivering the welcome speech, Prof Vasi gave a brief introduction about Ven Prof Samdhong Rincpoche emphasising that it is a blessing for all to have him for the concluding ceremonies. Prof Khakhar in his address expressed his gratification for the distinction enjoyed by IIT Bombay of being selected as the Nodal Agency for coordinating the project. He also shared that the project has personally benefited the faculty and students of IIT who got to see and be a part of the immortalisation of a great movement taking shape within the campus.
The audience consisted mainly of Dandi Memorial Sculptors and artists from different parts of the country and abroad. There were several others from different walks of life.
After the formal welcome and introduction, Prof Samdhong Rinpoche began his speech, and his opening remarks revealed his unassuming modesty and humility, qualities that are rare among the accomplished. He is an authority on Gandhian Philosophy and Satyagraha; he is a staunch, dedicated Gandhian; he held fast to non-violence in the Tibetan Struggle: yet he stated that he does not qualify to speak anything about Gandhiji or Satyagraha! And, when he spoke, the audience was pinned to his words in complete silence and attention, and was wonderstruck at the depth and breadth of his knowledge about Gandhian thoughts and ideology. The session lasted for exactly one hour followed by 55 minutes of Q&A session, which showed how much he valued time and punctuality, as a true and disciplined Gandhian. Accustomed only to the non-stop bellowing and noise pollution by the present day political speeches, his lecture on "Satyagraha, Insistence on Truth" was truly a refreshingly new experience to the audience at IIT Bombay.
(Above) Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche received by IIT Bombay officials, Dandi Workshop participants and Friends of Tibet Campaigners at IIT Powai campus on December 20, 2013. He was on a three-day visit to the campus in connection with the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops organised by IIT Bombay.
(Below) Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile examines life-size sculptures of 1930 Salt Satyagrahis made by Sculptors from India and abroad. yEeldtho Mathew, Founding Member of Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing and Sethu Das, Coordinator, Dandi Memorial Project next to him. Prof Rinpoche observed that "these sculptures are not mere works of art alone, they are more of an expression of gratitude to the Mahatma and the unsung heroes of Dandi Salt Satyagraha."
Prof Rinpoche expressed his gratitude for being invited to the great event. He congratulated all the agencies concerned, especially the IITB team, who worked behind the Dandi Memorial Project.
Prof Rinpoche said that the village where the Salt March concluded still retains its innocence. He hoped that this innocence will not be destroyed by the so-called 'developments' as is happening in the rest of the country. Gandhiji had a great vision about governance which he termed 'Gram Swaraj'. Prof Rinpoche suggested that the Dandi village should be adopted to implement his Gram Swaraj concept to complement the ongoing projects and which will be the greatest cultural monument possible for a person who discovered and declared that India lives in its villages.
During his lecture, Prof Rinpoche talked about the origin of the principles of Non-violence and Satyagraha; how Gandhiji brought these into a physical domain and shaped these as powerful weapons in political struggle; why Gandhiji stood different among all the Satyagrahis of all times; among the Satyagraha movements, why few failed and many met success; how non-violence is different from non-reacting; what is the significance of non-violence and Satyagraha in today's conflicts-ridden world; so on and so forth.
After examining the life-size sculptures of Salt Satyagrahis made by Sculptors from India and abroad, he observed that "these sculptures are not mere works of art alone; they are more of an expression of gratitude to the Mahatma and the unsung heroes of Dandi Salt Satyagraha." He also commented that "the statues though put together give an impression of uniformity, individually they are unique and different from one another, as each one reflected the artist's unique style and the cultural trait. This was symbolising Gandhiji's uncommon skill of binding divergent and sometimes even opposing personalities together, while leading the freedom struggle." He commended all the sculptors and artists from India and abroad for the marvelous work they did.
While concluding he exhorted all to do one's own little bit to guard the flame of truth and non-violence in their sphere of activity. Prof Rinpoche believes that drop by drop, bit by bit, a transformation is possible in the world, this ailing world. He invited the audience to look at the paradox that while the West is studying Gandhiji and looking to him for answers to many of their problems, at home front, to our shame, he seems to have been pushed into oblivion.
Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche visiting Dandi Memorial Sculptures Workshop venue at IIT Bombay to examine sculptures of 1930 Salt Satyagrahis made by Sculptors from India and abroad. He thanked everyone involved in this project and stated that they are fulfilling a great responsibility of the Nation — to give deserving recognition to the Salt Satyagraha and the sacrifices of the unsung heroes.
Such a profound speech by an accomplished Gandhian who thinks, acts, speaks and breathes non-violence, was obvious to evoke curiosity among the audience to know more. There were several questions which indicated that people are indeed concerned about the chaos in the society and that they are looking for a refuge, an ideology, which can bring in permanent positive changes. Prof Rinpoche addressed all the questions and explained the solutions in a Gandhian perspective.
With the profoundness of Prof Rinpoche's words still echoing within, the audience left the auditorium — some contented and thankful for the evening; some with determination to know more about Gandhian philosophy and ideology; some with the resoluteness to bring out the Gandhi that is within them to their actions.
Were there any disappointed faces? Yes, at least one — I, who wanted to hear more from the man of wisdom.
Excerpts from Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche's Talk
Dandi Memorial ProjectThe agencies involved in this project are fulfilling a great responsibility of the Nation — to give deserving recognition to the Salt Satyagraha and the sacrifices of the unsung heroes.
Human beings need visual things to touch their mind. Formless communication or interaction is almost impossible. The modernity has taken away our sensitivity and debilitated our capacity to feel and hence physical symbols are very much important. The Dandi Memorial Project will help our coming generations to learn about the Freedom Struggle. Dandi Memorial Project will be an exceptional physical monument. However there could be cultural monuments as well. Gandhiji discovered and proclaimed that India lives in its villages. Dandi village has its innocence still intact. It is not yet afflicted by the so-called 'development' virus. We should do everything possible to guard its chastity. One way is to adopt it to implement 'Gram Swaraj' concept, Gandhiji's own model for governance. If this could happen, it will greatly complement the ongoing Dandi Memorial Project and will be the most meaningful cultural monument of Gandhiji.
What makes Gandhiji unique in the domain of non-violence and Satyagraha
Gandhiji himself admitted that the concept of Satyagraha and non-violence were neither new nor he was a pioneer. 'They are as old as the hills' — he stated. Non-violence was advocated in India 2500 years ago by Buddha and Mahavira. Sidhartha who later became Buddha, the enlightened one, undertook Satyagraha to find out sustainable solutions to the miseries and pain. In similar fashion, Jainism too employed Satyagraha as a means of achieving freedom in the spiritual realm. Here Mahatma Gandhi stands uniquely different. He employed Satyagraha and non-violence in more mundane and practical issues. Gandhiji brought Satyagraha to a physical domain. He shaped Satyagraha into a powerful weapon against oppression, injustice and slavery. This makes him different and widely revered.
Application of non-violence in political issues
Gandhiji showed the world that Satyagraha and non-violence can be powerful weapons, so powerful that it can render the conventional weapons useless. Many world leaders were inspired by Gandhiji. Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, etc are examples of leaders who were inspired and who stuck to non-violent means in their struggles. HH the Dalai Lama has been leading the Tibetan people along the non-violent path for their dignified existence since the time when Peoples Republic of China occupied Tibet in 1959. Three generations of Tibetan people are committed to non-violence, influenced by Gandhiji. We therefore think that it is India's greatest contribution to humanity that after Buddha, India produced a great son — Mahatma Gandhi, who taught the world how to resist injustice using non-violence.
Satyagraha (Truth Insistence)
Before Gandhiji formulated Satyagraha in the modern sense, there used to be 'Passive Resistance' which in appearance looked similar to Satyagraha. When you are hit, you don't hit back. For an observer you are a non-violent person. But it is not Satyagraha or non-violence if there was the urge to hit back, but you restrained yourself. In such a case, there is hate. The basic principle of Satyagraha is that hate can't be eliminated by counter hate; but through love and compassion. Whatever the cause of the problem, can be eliminated only by a means which is opposite in nature. Just like fire is extinguished by water, violence can be eliminated only by non-violence.
In passive resistance, this element is generally dormant, therefore, at times turn violent. Even during some of the Satyagraha movements launched by Gandhiji, true non-violence was not practiced by the satyagrahis and he had to stop the movement midway. His fellow leaders and followers were baffled that sometimes he called off the movement when the momentum was at its peak and the goal was about to be reached. Gandhiji called off such movements when he saw that there is violence involved and he was not ready for any compromise on his principles on non-violence. Where any other leader would have ignored minor deviations in the principles of non-violence if it would fetch their goal quicker, Gandhiji was unfaltering in his principle so much so that he even forsook imminent success to guard Truth and Non-violence. For Gandhiji, Truth was paramount.
According to Buddhist view of Truth, there is Ultimate Truth and Relative Truth. Ultimate Truth is transcendental and can not be applied on sentient beings. So far as human beings are concerned, when we say truth, it means only Relative truth. To identify truth or untruth is difficult. A Satyagraha must be based only on truth. Gandhiji said Truth and non-violence are two sides of the same coin. Since truth and non-violence are so interconnected, by practicing non-violence, truth will be revealed. Both these nurture one another and one can get glimpses of truth.
Salt Satyagraha — a Satyagraha in true sense
Before commencing the Satyagraha, Gandhiji remained silent for several weeks, in deep meditation. He was asked by many why there is no action though he was authorised to launch and lead an agitation. He was waiting for the inner voice, meanwhile entreating British Government, and allowing it time, to consider the demand for repeal of Salt Tax. When the Government did not concede, and when he had his inner voice, the Satyagraha was launched and the Dandi March began. He personally selected 80 marchers to accompany him; together they represented the diversity of the country — of different age groups, of different faiths, from all parts of the country, of diverse walks of life, etc. But no woman was included in the March. Gandhiji wanted that the opponent should not be given any excuse for not committing violence on the Satyagrahis. Though only 80 were officially selected for the March, thousands and thousands of people thronged around and followed him in the great March. One drop, few drops, a stream, a rivulet, a river, and finally into an ocean it grew, to meet at the shores of Arabian Ocean to defy the strongest empire, with a pinch of salt.
For many, including some top rung leaders, it was unimaginable that a pinch of salt could shake the foundations of a great empire. Yet it happened at Dandi, a remote village near Surat, Gujarat, India. Why the Salt Satyagraha succeeded? It was one movement where none of the principles of the Satyagraha as defined by Gandhiji was broken. No violence at all from the Satyagrahis despite brute physical assaults by the opponents.
(Above) Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche is being briefed about Dandi Memorial Project by Sethu Das, Project Coordinator during his three-day long visit to IIT Bombay campus during the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops organised by IIT Bombay. Tenzin Dhonyoe, Personal Secretary to Prof Rinpoche next to them. Prof Rinpoche urged the project team members to make Dandi Memorial Project a meaningful cultural monument of Gandhi and his Satyagrahis.
(Below) Atsuro Seto (Left), one of the Dandi Memorial Sculptors from Japan explains his 3D Mandala installation to Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile during his visit to IIT Bombay on December 22, 2013. Yeldtho Mathew and Rashmi Sidharthan of Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing and Tenzin Dhonyoe, Personal Secretary to Prof Rinpoche next to him. Prof Samdhong Rinpoche was on a three-day visit to the campus in in connection with the Dandi Memorial Sculptures' Workshops organised by IITB.
Current times — relevance of Satyagraha
Modern society is shaped through the modern education. Modern education encourages competition. Since everything and everyone is interrelated they have to be free from competition and violence. A potent seed, water and soil cooperate between them: a sapling is the result. Any competition among them would not have brought that beautiful life to surface. Class struggles can not put an end to any class. Rather, class cooperation can take them higher. Violence, a derivative of competitiveness, can never give positive results. Violence destroys the doer much before it affects the prey.
Science and technology claim that they are discovering newer peaks daily. The science and technology might have changed the way of life for millions on this globe, whether positive or otherwise — cannot say. But the Humanity did not gain. Whenever the technology advanced, violence too increased.
Particularly now, war and violence has become a trade, a profitable one for few big players. Terrorism is a very profitable business. Sell more weapons to the terrorists and then sell even more to contain terrorism.
Challenges due to technological advancement
Entire Humanity is passing through a challenging period. Humanity today is facing the challenges of complete annihilation. Some of the challenges are apparent and some are less so. The major challenges I identify are:
(a) Increasing gap between the Haves and Have Nots
(b) Globalisation of resources by consumerist market forces
(c) Population Explosion leading to reduction of per capita resource availability
(d) Destruction of the ecosystem.
All these are attributable to the modernity and technological advancement. Modernity believes in competition and not on cooperation. Competition gives rise to corruption, intolerance, violence, war, weapon, etc. It is heard that there are enough nuclear weapons in the world to destroy this earth 36 times over! Advancement of technology greatly destroyed the eco-system. Himalayan glaciers are melting and the rate of melting is increasing exponentially. With the rate of global warming, in 40-50 years the climate will be beyond human tolerance. Many countries will be submerged in sea.
Life without compromise
Many people question whether it is possible to live without the technology. Gandhiji is greatly misunderstood by many that he was blindly against technology. But the fact is that he was a critic not of the technology in itself, but the immorality behind it. Anything that is non-moral and immoral should be given up. Consequentially, since the modern technologies and modernity do not have anything to offer to elevate the human kind in terms of morality, but rather, is degrading it, they are to be disowned. But people are accustomed to the comforts offered by the technology and they feel that one has to compromise a little bit here and there in their ideologies. Now the question is which is important? Your ideals or your comfort-filled survival? If the ideology is important, then there is no scope for any compromise for survival.
Why to survive at all if to compromise on the ideology?
What we may
Martin Luther King Jr said, "Today the choice is not between violence and non-violence. The choice is between non-violence and non-existence". There is so much pollution in material and spiritual sense, now there is only such a choice available to us. We are fortunate that we need not re-invent the wheel. Gandhiji had already walked ahead of us; we need only to follow his steps. We just have to learn the ways to become Satyagrahis. The essence of Gandhiji's philosophy is contained in the little book called Hind Swaraj written in 1909. It is more relevant now than ever. 104 years ago, he could foresee what is now happening to the world. It will profit any aspiring satyagrahi to read this little book to understand Gandhiji.
We need more Satyagrahis today than at Gandhiji's time. But it is hard to cultivate oneself into a Satyagrahi. One has to give up modernity and the evils of modern civilisation. Modern education and modern civilisation has to be approached cautiously as they are destroying the human sensitivity through the spirit of competition. Instead we should look for alternate ways where cooperation and co-existence are advocated.
The appeal to all who believe Gandhi's teachings and trying to live according his principles is that they should create more awareness about Gandhiji among the populace. It is imperative because what is waiting for us is a complete deterioration and destruction of environment and the mounting gap between the haves and the have nots. Since violence to nature is violence to all living things, younger generation who wish to enjoy their full life should think seriously how to save Earth.
Gandhiji is an answer to all these problems.
Q: Truth is highly disguised now a days. How does one go about insistence on truth in this condition?
A: It is due to the conditioning of mind. Our mind is not conditioned to see the truth. Even if we see it, we cannot admit it. This is the evil side of modernity. Such conditioning is largely due to the so called modern education. There are so many external forces of modernity to stimulate greed and then ride on it. We have completely lost recognition of ourselves. We are conditioned to find our identity in comparison with others which leads to competition. Truth then eludes us, and also our power of discrimination between what is and what is not. Unless and until we see the demerits of modernity and discard it, and go back to one's own naturalness and tune the life style accordingly, we will not be able to see things as they are. There are no readymade solutions to problems. Lead a life on the basis of needs and say no to greed; answers will come of its own accord. We are no longer 'users'; we are made 'consumers'. To be a user is not violent as it is based on one's needs. To be a consumer means taking someone else's share, taking more than what is actually required, which according to Gandhiji is stealing. There is untruth in greed and therefore, a consumer perpetually remains in a violent state of being.
There is no short cut to Truth. We need to find it out through painful, conscious efforts. We can go about insistence on Truth by learning from the life of Mahatma. 'My life is my message', he said. Can we lead a life based on needs and say no to greed? Question yourself: is your life your message? How good is then your message? If it is good, tread on, if not, correct the course.
(Above) Prof Kirti Trivedi, Convener of Dandi Memorial Project introduces Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile to the gathering at IIT Bombay during the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop II on December 21, 2013.
(Below) Venerable Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, Former Prime Minister of Tibetan Government in Exile appreciates the replica of Dandi Gandhi statue by Shri Sadashiv Sathe, during the Dandi Marchers' Sculptures Workshop II Lecture on December 21, 2013 at IIT Bombay.
Q: Gandhiji used the word 'civilisation' to mean 'evilisation'. Rather than blanket-negation of modernity, modern civilisation and modern education, shall we not welcome the positive changes they brought in? Even when thriving in the modernity and modern civilisation, we can see positive evolutions in the world. America, a country which used to indulge in barbarous acts like slavery, oppression and brutality against the Black, has now come to recognise a descendant of the victims of such barbarous acts as its leader. Is this not something of a correct consciousness evolving?
A: It is uncomfortable to brand all the modernity as evil. But, after reading Gandhiji's Hind Swaraj, writings by contemporary critics of modernity like Prof Saran, Kumaraswamy, Dharampal and many others, our conviction will lead us to complete negation of modernity. I do not deny the possibility of evolution of individual consciousness. I do not however see any such evolution in the collective consciousness of the nations. For example, consumerism and greed are the key elements in modern way of life. They are aware of the adverse impact of such life style on the environment. However, the so called modern countries, the developed nations, are not willing to change their way of life to bring down the impact. Instead, the responsibility is forced on the developing and third world countries. So there has not been much evolution of the collective consciousness. A descendant of once oppressed race becoming the leader is fine. But if he too carries on with the legacy of war and violence, I do not see any evolution. However, if the descendant of the once oppressed race takes over the reign and declares no war and no weapons, then I will call it a positive evolution.
Q: What about the discord among religions?
A: There can not be any discord between any religions. But what we mean today by 'religion' is not actually what was originally meant by the word. There are three aspects related to religion — Religiousness, Religiosity and Religionism. Today Religiousness is almost vanished fully. Religiosity is partly remaining. Religionism is fully active. It is the Religionism that is the root cause of discord between people of different faiths.
[Religiousness refers to the spiritual content of the religion. Religiosity hints the ritual aspect and Religionism is only a matter of identity and has nothing really to do with religion]
Q: How do you see Tibetan struggle in the back drop of India's struggle for Independence with the emphasis on 'Satyagraha' and non-violence?
A: The situations are different. In Tibet, not more than three people can gather together. The communication is highly controlled. It is unimaginable to execute anything similar to Salt March or Satyagraha in Tibet. About 122 people have given up their lives through self-immolation, in their struggle for dignified existence as Tibetan people. This was their ultimate sacrifice — a non-violent act for their motherland.
Q: What is your opinion about the need for a new educational system?
A: It is a must if we wish not to lose our sensitivity. But for that, there has to be a Ministry of 'Education' rather than a Ministry of HRD.
(This report is prepared by yEldtho Mathew, a Swarajist and one of the Founding Members of Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing. He was a Volunteer for the Dandi Memorial Project. Yeldtho can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org)
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