2014 World Tibet Day

​World Tibet Day was created with three main goals: first to create an annual worldwide event to help restore essential freedoms for those living in Chinese-occupied Tibet; second to increase awareness of the genocidal threats to the Tibetan people; and third, to celebrate the unique beauty and value of Tibetan culture and thought. Founded in 1998 by Richard Rosenkranz, World Tibet Day has grown into one of the most important events on the Tibetan calendar.

World Tibet Day will be celebrated July 6, 2014, 79th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan people. Friends of Tibet in association with Men-Tsee-Khang, Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute will observe the day at Men-Tsee-Khang, City Apartment, Plot No 21, Sector 16, Kopar Khairaine, New Mumbai 400709 at 10:30am. The program begins with prayers for the long life of HH the Dalai Lama and to all those great warriors died self-immolation inside Tibet. Rohit Singh, Campaigns Coordinator of Friends of Tibet will speak about the "on-going Tibet's struggle for Independence".

All are invited. To know more, contact Friends of Tibet Email: freedom@friendsoftibet.org Tel/WhatsApp: +91.9400354354

Art Attack in Tibet (June 17, 2014)

When the obvious signs of protests are beaten to splinters, when all human language of dissent have blown away to dust, when methods of control is far sophisticated than the dissent (that one doesn't understand how even the words you say to yourself are being watched and followed by the state), there is one last communication possible -Art. Tibetans in Tibet under Chinese oppression are challenging the opaque brutality of the Chinese oppression after 55 years of colonial occupation by singing, painting, playing the exotic and just by being the 'orthodox' Tibetan. Tenzin Tsundue, Tibetan poet, writer and activist speaks about this new creative language of the arts attack in Tibet with an audio-video presentation.

Venue: 1 Shanthi Road
Date and time: June 17, 2014 at 6pm
To know more, email: +91.9400354354, freedom@friendsoftibet.org

Battalion of Monkeys

China's PLA Air Force creates "Battalion of Monkeys" to protect an airbase near Beijing. See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil!

The air force of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) of China has trained a group of macaques to help protect an air base close to Beijing. These monkeys have been put here to take care of the huge flocks of birds that pose a threat to flights. 
According to China's air force news website, the macaques have been taught to destroy nests in nearby trees and chase away the birds that have become a nuisance during the take-offs and landings of fighter planes in the base whose exact location was not revealed.

The base has used practically every means of tackling the problems of the birds, from firecrackers to scarecrows or even firearms but nothing proved to be as effective as the monkeys which are jokingly referred in military circles as "the Chinese army's new secret weapon". The macaques respond with the obedience of a recruit to the whistles that their trainers use to give them orders and are capable of destroying more than 180 nests close to the base at a rate of around six nests per monkey.

India’s Monuments Men

Manimugdha S Sharma, TNN
The recent Hollywood film Monuments Men depicts the exploits of an army unit which protected and recovered Nazi-looted art. But buried in the pages of history is the story of an Indian Army battalion that discovered and rescued over 200 exquisite pieces of Florentine art at the height of World War II in Italy. In July 1944, the 8th Indian Division, part of the British Eighth Army, was advancing to Florence after the final Battle of Monte Cassino, where the Allies made inroads into German strongholds. They stopped at Tuscany on the south bank of Arno river, where the 1/5 Maratha Light Infantry set up battalion headquarters at the Castello di Montegufoni, a 12th-century palatial property owned by the Sitwells, an English family. (Today it is a heritage hotel.) According to the official regimental history, titled A Saga of Service (A History of 1st Battalion The Maratha Light Infantry, Jangi Paltan 1768 to 1993) authored by late Major General Eustace D'Souza in 1994, it was late July when the Marathas occupied the castle and D'Souza, a second lieutenant, was asked by commanding officer Lt Col DWH Leeming to inspect the castle's sentry posts. While on inspection, D'Souza overheard a soldier giggling and asked him, in Marathi, "Kai zala?" (What's the matter?) The seemingly embarrassed soldier led him down the basement, where the source of his amusement was revealed to be The Birth of Venus, the original 15th century masterpiece by Italian Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. The iconic painting was one among 261 priceless artworks packed into the room. D'Souza recalls alerting the CO, who ordered that the room be heavily guarded. An elderly Italian, present in the castle, revealed that the canvases had been stored there by the Germans, who had occupied the castle until their retreat. The works belonged to the Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy. Word was sent to the divisional headquarters south of the Arno and the next day, reputed Scottish writer Eric Linklater and BBC war correspondent Wynford Vaughan Thomas arrived to take a look, accompanied by Indian Army officers and two regimental historians including Captain Unni Nayar (killed in the Korean War). Linklater and Thomas identified most of the artworks, including Botticelli's La Primavera and Coronation of the Virgin, and others by Renaissance masters Giotto di Bondone and Paolo Uccello. In the official history, D'Souza wrote that both Linklater and Thomas profusely thanked the Marathas and that Linklater, who was an assistant editor in The Times of India's Bombay office between 1925 and 1927, even wrote a commendation note in the official visitors' book of the castle and gifted the book to the unit. Stored in the officers' mess of the regimental centre of Maratha Light Infantry in Belgaum, Karnataka, the book is a war trophy of great importance to the regiment even today. "You will find my signatures in the book too, apart from those of Karl Marx, DH Lawrence and Stalin," says Lieutenant General (retd) Vijay Oberoi, former colonel of the regiment who was also vice-chief of staff and director-general of military operations. In Thomas's version of the episode, which came out in the March 4, 1950 issue of the now defunct UK magazine, Everybody's Weekly, he wrote, "...invaluable art treasures of Florence which were discovered in the Castle of Montegufoni, the home of the famous Sitwell family. Among the many priceless paintings saved by the Mahrattas were the great Madonnas of Duccio, Giotto and Cimabue, (works by) Uccello, Lippi, Massacio and Andreas del Sarto, and Botticelli's Coronation of the Virgin." According to D'Souza's account, Thomas and Linklater even suggested that when the artworks were restored to the Uffizi Gallery, they be displayed in a room dedicated to their saviours, titled the 'Maratha Room'. But that never happened. In fact the role the Indian Army played in this rescue work was almost wiped out of the official narrative of the event. While the official history of the three Indian divisions published by His Majesty's Stationery Office in 1946 clearly mentions the Marathas' mission — "...nearing the river (Arno) the Mahrattas turned southeast on a non-military mission to secure the castle of the Chesterfield Sitwells at Montegufoni. Here the priceless art treasures of the Florentine galleries were stored, including Botticelli's Primavera and other of the world's most famous paintings..." — it is Linklater and Thomas who got credit for finding these works. Linklater, whose book The Art of Adventure published in 1947 is acknowledged as the official history of this operation, states they arrived on the scene first and informed the Maratha CO of their discovery. Subsequent versions of that incident, including the 2013 book Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation's Treasures from the Nazis by Robert M Edsel, the same author who wrote The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History in 2009, credits American Frederick Hartt, one of the Monuments Men, for the rescue and restoration of the artworks. According to Edsel's book, days after the Indian Army had moved out of Tuscany on their march forward to Florence, Hartt arrived at the castle and discovered the artworks. He reportedly maintained vigil over the collection until Florence was liberated by 21st Indian Infantry Brigade in mid-August, 1944. Magnus, eldest son of Eric Linklater and former Scotland editor of The Times, recalls being surprised by the photocopy of the Sitwell visitors' book he was presented with on a visit to the castle. "The inscription on the first page caught my eye: 'Officers present serving with the 1st Bn 5th Mahratta L.I. on 30th July 1944, upon which day this book, the property of the late Sir George Sitwell, was presented as a trophy to the Bn by Major Eric Linklater R.E. — Castle of Montegufoni, Florence.' My father had taken it upon himself to acquire the book as a spoil of war and had presented it to the Indians," says Magnus. While he chose not to comment on who discovered the treasure, he scoffed at Edsel's claim. "Remember, he (Eric Linklater) was there, Robert Edsel wasn't. And Major General Eustace D'Souza of the Indian Army was undoubtedly there!" he says, dismissing the 2013 book as "Typical American!"

Is new Tibetan leader a threat to India?

(Feb 21, 2014 by Maurya Moynihan, The Asian Age)
Ever since Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru offered sanctuary to the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of Tibetan refugees in 1959, India has reaped a moral and strategic benefit from this act of humanitarian service. But with the Dalai Lama’s retirement from politics and the installation of Lobsang Sangay as the new Tibetan political leader in Dharamsala, the strong ties between India and the Tibetan government in exile could now be at risk. Mr Sangay has signalled a strange new willingness to cast his lot with China, which raises serious questions about his commitment to India’s security.

India has earned global admiration for providing a home in exile to Tibetans. India’s global “soft power” is enhanced by hosting the Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate whom many consider the living heir to Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy of practising non-violence, ahimsa, and who calls himself a “son of India”. In the past 54 years, many Tibetan refugees have served in the Indian military, in the Bangladesh War of Independence and building roads that secure India’s northern borders. The presence in India of the heads of all four branches of Tibetan Buddhism provides incalculable benefits in sensitive regions like Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Ladakh. And the presence of loyal, pro-India Tibetan exiles challenges China’s ability to threaten India from a secure position in Tibet.

But this beneficial relationship is now at risk from changes instituted by Lobsang Sangay. Mr Sang-ay has bewildered many long-time Tibet supporters by announcing policies that are alarmingly pro-Beijing, and threaten to take the entire Tibetan exile cause with it. Never mind that Mr Sangay was born, raised and educated in India, thanks to the Indian government.
At a speech on May 8, 2013 at the Council on Foreign Relations, a prestigious Washington DC think tank, Mr Sangay announced that henceforth Tibetans would abandon the goal of democracy for Tibet, and instead accept Chinese Communist Party rule in its “present structure”. Most troubling for India’s security, when asked about Chinese military border incursions into India, from Tibet, he declared that he supported China in this matter, giving China full “discretion” in invading Indian territory.

What is driving Mr Sangay’s embrace of Beijing?

The new Tibetan leader was an obscure Harvard researcher before capturing a majority of Tibetan exile votes in 2011, beating two established opponents by running an uncharacteristically aggressive campaign. On a researcher’s salary, it is still a mystery how he paid for his jetsetting campaign, or was able to suddenly pay off a $227,000 home loan on July 29, 2011, just days before his inauguration.

Several sources have noted that Mr Sangay had a close and continuous relationship (including joint travel) at Harvard with Hu Xiaojiang, president of a Chinese students and scholars association with ties to Chinese intelligence services. In 2011, Mr Sangay also admitted – after several years of denials – that he used an “Overseas Chinese National” passport to travel to Beijing on an academic junket in 2005.

It is plausible that these matters can be explained away, but he fact remains that Mr Sangay is trying to push policies that legitimise the Chinese Communist Party, and support the Chinese military’s ability to threaten India. India is facing a bellicose China that is increasingly willing to rattle its sabres from the Himalayas to the East China Sea. China continues to occupy Aksai Chin, daily sends armed incursions into Indian territory, and has plans to divert the Brahmaputra and Tibet’s other great rivers to a parched and polluted China. At a time like this, democratic India’s national security is threatened when this new and almost unknown Tibetan politician embraces China’s unlimited right to militarise Tibet.

On the contrary, India needs Tibetan allies who stand with democracy, and who challenge China’s ability to turn Tibet into a military base that threatens India. It is time for the Intelligence Bureau and other security agencies to question Mr Sangay on the meaning of his statements, as well as the source of his unexplained funding. And it is time to reinvigorate the mutually beneficial Indo-Tibetan relationship that Mr Sangay has threatened to destabilise, in the face of the increasing threat from China.

Maura Moynihan is a journalist and Tibet analyst based in New York City.

"1962 Debacle and Henderson Brooks Report: Part I"

Neville Maxwell has put part of Henderson Brooks Report on the internet generating clamour to make this report public. Governments, including that of BJP, have been shying away from de-classifying the report. On government’s instructions, Henderson Brooks inquiry was ordered by the then Army Chief and was required to look only into those aspects of the debacle that exclusively pertained to the military. Thus its scope was extremely limited and therefore the report essentially covers the failures related to the military with little reference to the political direction. No inquiry into the failures at the political level was undertaken. As for military’s part in this sad chapter, there is very little which is not already known and to that end, the report has little value at this point of time.

Undoubtedly, there were failures in the military, both at the higher command in Delhi and those in the field. Nehru’s abrasive, curt and sometimes rude manner of dealing with the military’s higher command at Delhi had resulted in his getting no firm military advise on strategic issues related to India-Tibet border or for that matter on any of the other important issues plaguing the forces. Nehru displayed open disdain for the military. When the issue of suitably arming the army was raised with him, he famously retorted that military, if required, should be prepared to fight with lathies ( sticks. )

Deliberate efforts, more as a policy, were adopted, not to reduce important decisions etc, in writing. Jawaharlal’s attitude is best showcased when he told the President that, ‘when he comes across any information, he should not put it in writing; instead he should send for him and talk it over’. In response the President in a letter dated18 December 1959, tells Nehru, “------Your suggestion that I should send for you and speak to you ……… I am afraid this will stultify me in performing my constitutional duty ……….” Nehru expresses anxiety that, ‘information should not get into wrong hands.’ That perhaps, in a nutshell, explains why full records of the ‘goings-on’ in the government, leading upto and during the 1962 war, were not kept and where kept, were never made public. However, gleaning through the records in the two houses of Parliament, internal notings between the PMO and Ministry of External Affairs, and the correspondence with India’s Ambassador in Peking and some internal notings on files, do bring out his propensity towards sustained self-deception. 

Even when in 1949, China made clear its intentions to ‘liberate’ Tibet, he kept maintaining that invasion of Tibet was most unlikely. In a note to Ministry of External affairs, Nehru records, ‘there is practically no chance of any military danger to India arising from any possible change in Tibet.’ This one sentence brings out Nehru’s perception of security issue of such strategic importance. Yet on 10 September 1949, Nehru records in a note to finance minister that China may invade Tibet in a year or so, and that Tibet will not be able to resist the invasion.’ On development of roads along the border, in one part he tells the FM not to economize on expenditure and in the same note he states that we can proceed relatively slowly, as we have time. Arun Shourie puts it thus, ‘Nehru was preoccupied with, ‘bigger issues’; that is saving the world from crises which he believes were imminent.’

Blind to the developing situation in Tibet, Nehru fervently champions China’s case for admitting it in the U N, in Commonwealth, everywhere. A Tibetan delegation come to meet Nehru and he keeps them waiting for months as he claims to be occupied with world affairs. He finally meets this delegation on 8 September1950, and advises it to proceed to Peking and obtain assurances from the Chinese for maintaining Tibet’s autonomy. On the one hand Nehru paid no heed to Sardar Patel’s warning of China’s intentions, concentration of Chinese forces for an onslaught on Tibet, on the other he kept giving credence to Ambassador Panikkar’s false sense of confidence and intelligence Czar Mullik’s assurances that China would want to settle the Tibetan problem by peaceful means. What he meant by suzerainty, for China it meant sovereignty. This pattern of self-deception continues till the very outbreak of hostilities. All warnings of developments in Tibet and Chinese intentions do not register with him. He adopts an attitude of, ‘ hear no evil - speak no evil.’ All this while military’s strength is being reduced and no replacement of obsolete weapons is undertaken, nor infrastructure along the Tibet border developed. Self deception, ambiguity, ambivalence and status quo persists, till the very end, while ominous clouds build up along the Indo-Tibet border. 
Author: Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (Retd)

Friends of Tibet (TN) Press Release

Chennai, Thu, March 20, 2014

Background: More than a million Tibetans have died as a direct result of the Chinese invasion and occupation of Tibet. Today, it is hard to come across a Tibetan family that has not had at least one member imprisoned or killed by the Chinese regime. These facts speak volumes about the 'liberation' and the 'democratic reform' China claims to have brought to Tibet. Independent Tibet was certainly not an embodiment of perfect human society. But it was, by no means, nearly as tyrannical as it is today under Chinese rule. Following the Chinese invasion, the whole of Tibet has been turned into a vast network of prisons and labour camps.

Programme: Friends of Tibet (Chennai) is organising an interactive session and discussion on the topic “Tibet: Present Scenario and Future Outlook" on Tuesday, March 25, 2014. The prominent speakers of this programme include  Shri Tsewang Dorjee (Researcher, Dept of Political Science, Madras university), Prof Dr Suresh Maria Selvam (Vellore Institute of Technology, TN), Dr Radhika and Shri L Rasheed. The discussion will take place at The venue of the programme is at: Benhur Hall, 5 Buddha Street, Rangarajapuram, Chennai 600024 at 6pm.  

The discussion will be moderated by Shri Michael Hubert, Chairperson, Friends of Tibet (Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry region).  
All are cordially invited. Entrance is free for all.  

Media contact:  Michael Hubert  
Mobile: +91.9962430097 Email: michael.hubert@friendsoftibet.org 

Friends of Tibet is a people's movement to keep alive the issue of Tibet through direct action. Our activities are aimed at ending China's occupation of Tibet and the suffering of the Tibetan people. Friends of Tibet supports the continued struggle of the Tibetan people for independence. Friends of Tibet is also one of the principal organisers of World Tibet Day around the world. To know more, visit: www.friendsoftibet.org

1962 War Report

When Nehru stepped on the Dragon's tail

1962 war report: When Nehru stepped on the Dragon's tail
Jawaharlal Nehru with Army men at Charduar, Nov 1962 (Pic: Ministry of Defence)
The conventional narrative in India about the 1962 war has largely revolved around portraying the Chinese as the unbridled "aggressors", who ripped apart the nascent "Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai" construct forever. The reality is slightly different.

True, China was nibbling away at what India perceived to be its territory both in Ladakh and North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), as Arunachal Pradesh was then called, to consolidate its hold on Tibet. But what provoked Mao-led China to launch a full-blown military invasion into India on October 20, 1962 was the Nehru government's ill-conceived and poorly executed Forward Policy, set in motion almost a year ago in November-December 1961.

Already smarting from the Dalai Lama's escape to India in early 1959 and the bitter exchanges over the Mc-Mahon Line, which it considered to be a "legacy of British imperialism", China decided to teach India "a lesson" it would never forget through the one-month war. The Henderson Brooks-P S Bhagat report on the 1962 military debacle, kept firmly under lock and key by the Indian government for the last 50 years, makes it clear the "unsound" Forward Policy — directing Indian troops to patrol, "show the flag" and establish posts "as far forward as possible" from the then existing positions —"precipitated matters", sources say.

The sources, who have accessed the classified report, say the ill-timed Forward Policy "certainly increased the chances of conflict" at a time when India was militarily ill-prepared in Ladakh and NEFA, with China much better placed in terms of forces, equipment and logistics in both the sectors.

The report apparently holds that the Forward Policy was based on the "flawed premise", primarily driven by the then all-powerful Intelligence Bureau director B N Mullik, that "the Chinese would not react to our establishing new posts and that they were not likely to use force against any of our posts even if they are in a position to do so". This gravely erroneous assumption, given credence by a complicit Army headquarters despite being in direct contrast to an earlier military intelligence "appreciation" that the Chinese "would resist by force any attempts to take back territory held by them", percolated down to all levels of command to usher in "a sense of false complacency".

What compounded matters was the "appalling" and "disastrous" military leadership and its decision-making, ignoring the advice of commanders on the spot. First, the Army headquarters paid no heed to the quantum of forces required to implement the Forward Policy. Both Ladakh and NEFA had "a minimum requirement" of an additional infantry division (over 12,000 troops) each, with necessary airlift and logistical backing, to somewhat re-address the imbalance with China, as had been reinforced by war games conducted earlier in 1960.

But no fresh induction of troops ever materialized. So, the report reportedly notes, while the Forward Policy may have been "politically desirable", the Army simply did not have the wherewithal to implement it. The Western Command, for instance, had held that the Forward Policy should be kept "in abeyance" till there were enough Indian troops in Ladakh and that China should not be "provoked" into an armed clash.

But the Army HQ disregarded all this. Neither did it strengthen Ladakh, nor reduce tensions with China. With the "probes forward'' underway, the Army established 60 posts in sectors like Demchok, Chushul, Daulat Beg Oldi, Changla and Rezengla of Ladakh by July 1962, further stretching its already meagre resources there. Many of these "very weak, far-flung and uncoordinated" posts had barely 10 soldiers each.

Similar was the story in NEFA. Instead of strengthening the "defence line", forces were frittered away in "penny-packets" in forward areas. Tawang, for instance, had just a depleted brigade, while China had two divisions in the sector. Similarly, Bomdila had only one battalion.

Thus, as in Ladakh, in NEFA too, the Army was hardly in a position to adopt the Forward Policy. That it was adopted proved that the "higher direction of war" was "faulty", based as it was more on preconceived notions that China would not react rather than sound military judgment, say sources.

React the Chinese certainly did. Drafted by then commander of the Jalandhar-based 11 Corps Lt-Gen T B Henderson Brooks, who was assisted by Brigadier P S Bhagat, this "operational review" details at great length how the outnumbered and out-gunned Indian Army was first complacent, then collapsed and finally panicked and fled under the Chinese onslaught.

The report's mandate was restricted to reviewing the Army operations but the covering note on it by Gen J N Chaudhari, who took over as Army chief after the war, did criticise then defence minister V K Krishna Menon's continuous meddling in military matters. The report itself is sharply critical of the role played by Lt-General B M Kaul — a distant relative of Nehru and Menon's favourite — first as chief of general staff at the Army headquarters and then as commander of the hastily raised IV Corps at Tezpur just before the Chinese invasion. The report holds that the "lapses'' by Lt-Gen Kaul and his "hand-picked officers" were "inexcusable" and "heinous", say sources, adding they should not have allowed themselves to be "pushed" into a military adventure without requisite forces and proper planning.

The 4th Infantry Division in NEFA, for instance, was neither militarily prepared nor mentally adjusted to fight the Chinese. When the Chinese troops reached its gate, there was total confusion that ultimately ended in panic and flight. "Senior commanders" — like the 4th Infantry Division commander Major-General A S Pathania in NEFA — "let down the units" under their command, held the report.

'Award for Excellence in Social Service' (March 2014)

Honorable Governor of West Bengal and former National Security Advisor HE Shri MK Narayanan presented 'Award for Excellence in Social Service' to 'Friends of Tibet Foundation for the Wellbeing' at a function organised by Daya Charitable Trust on March 15, 2014. The award instituted by Daya Charitable Trust was for the "outstanding and tireless efforts in addressing and raising awareness about social issues and causes" was received by Shri Eswar Anandan, Friends of Tibet Campaigner on the behalf of the organisation.

While speaking on the occasion of Daya's Financial aid scheme and adoption of 200 HIV/AIDS affected widows and children, Shri MK Narayanan appreciated the vision and compassion of Shri Sanjumon P, Chairman of the Trust and described him as a the "young leader New India needed the most." He also urged every member of the society plays a part to transform the lives of differently abled or challenged in our society. "No doubt there is far greater awareness today than previously, about the need to help the less privileged and the more challenged sections of our population. It is unfortunate that despite our great civilisational legacy of over 5000 years, and our beliefs and values derived from our Scriptures, we had not until recently accepted and recognised that Society as a whole had a responsibility towards the marginalised," he said.

​The Wellbeing Programme is a philanthropic initiative by Mumbai-based Friends of Tibet, a non-profit organisation founded in 1999 to support the cause of Tibet and to create awareness about the issue of Tibet amongst people all over the world. This initiative researched, designed and implemented by Friends of Tibet aims at the restoration, propagation and promotion of the endangered traditions and practices of Tibet. Started as an email club from Mumbai, Friends of Tibet has thousands of members worldwide and has regional chapters in India and international chapters. The 'Wellbeing' wing of Friends of Tibet takes care of cultural activities of the organisation at a national level. It also associates awith Men-Tsee-Khang, the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to hold monthly Tibetan medical camps which benefits thousands of participants from Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

To know more about the Wellbeing Programme, visit: www.friendsoftibet.org/wellbeing/

Veteran Tibetan Communist longs for Dalai Lama’s return

Phayul, March 7, 2014
An undated picture of Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal
An undated picture of Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal
DHARAMSHALA, March 6: A veteran Tibetan communist Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal or Phunwang as he is popularly known among Tibetans has called for the return of Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet. Phunwang, whom the exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama often refers to as a friend, wrote in his upcoming book ‘A Long Way to Equality and Unity’ that if the Dalai Lama returns to Tibet, “the homecoming would be peaceful and not chaotic.”

The book condemns the political environment in China, where the emphasis on stability overwhelms everything and “even requests by Tibetans to learn their own language have become frightening words”.

“If he returned to China the antagonistic Tibetan issue that has been internationalized would change into a non-antagonistic domestic issue,” Phunwang writes.

Phunwang, founder of Tibet’s Communist Party which he later merged with Mao’s, asks Chinese leadership to treat the Tibetan leader as it has leaders of Taiwan, through reconciliation and abandonment of grudges, adding that simply marking time until the Dalai Lama dies will “only worsen the threat of social unrest.”
Phunwang seen with Mao Zedong and the young Dalai Lama in Beijing in 1955
Phunwang seen with Mao Zedong and the young Dalai Lama in Beijing in 1955
The book is due to be published this week by New Century Press in Hong Kong, known for publishing politically sensitive works in the past including the autobiography of disgraced Communist Party General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. “It is significant that someone who has spent his whole life working with the Central government shows this kind of dissatisfaction with its policies,” said Bao Pu, the book’s publisher.

Phunwang, who spent several years in the Chinese Communist Party, condemns the political environment in China and warns the Chinese leaders against stumbling into a “Chinese Empire” mentality, and against becoming “intoxicated with self-publicity.”

“We cannot be afraid of the small trouble that may come up today and leave the big trouble for tomorrow,” he writes. He says that a view among his Tibetan friends is that stability in regions such as Tibet cannot be maintained with “the gun and the renminbi [Chinese currency]”, writes Phunwang.

Now 92, Phunwang is reportedly in a rapidly declining health.

Since 2009, 127 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet to protest against China’s occupation of Tibet and its hard-line policies. Many of them have also called for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Fakes of Fakes

Amazon India responds to Lenovo and Toshiba warnings about buying products from online retailers

Last month, Lenovo and Toshiba warned consumers not to buy their products from online retailers like Flipkart, Amazon.in and Snapdeal among others, since they were not authorized resellers and products bought from them might not come with official warranty. Amazon India has now responded to allay the fears with what it calls the “100% Purchase Protection.”
The e-retailer guarantees that all the products listed on its site are genuine, since the sellers have to sign an agreement before listing any product. Amazon is also offering an “A-to-Z Guarantee” wherein a buyer can claim a refund if he/she is not happy with the product. If there is a case of the product not being delivered, defective or damaged product delivered or if the seller has not refunded your money, a buyer will be able to file a claim whereby Amazon will intervene.
Last month Flipkart too had responded to these warnings when it issued a statement to BGR India. It said, “We can assure our customers buying Lenovo products on Flipkart.com that they are genuine. Customers will continue to enjoy the warranty and services extended to all original Lenovo products as always.”
Though the companies did not reveal the reason behind the warnings, BGR India was told that the move was on the behest of brick and mortar retailers, who had been crying foul over the pricing strategies followed by most online retailers. Many alleged that these online retail chains often sell products below the ‘dealer price’ or in other words at loss in order to gain customers.
(By Sambit Satpathy, BGR, Mar 7, 2014)

China Should Shed Expansionist Mindset: Modi

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)

Vijay Kranti Interview (Tibet Telegraph)

Exclusive interview: A Journalist Perspective on Tibetan Struggle for Freedom

Vijay Kranti
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.