Division hurts; Unity helps!

Kunchok Gyatso

Kunchok Gyatso

By Kunchok Gyatso

BANGALORE, India, 28 November 2017

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Ma Huateng, CEO of WeChat, are happy and thankful to exiled Tibetans for boosting their business in recent times by our non-stop 24/7 active engagement on their products — exchanging pro- and anti-views in a series of rows from Tenpa Yarphel to Penpa Tsering sacking case and so on, which have erupted at intervals since the last general election. Ma is happy not only for the business growth, but also double happy to see his government’s policy of sowing discord among Tibetan come true.

Their Research and Development (R&D) wing conducted a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) to find out what at root contributed to this revenue boost; a bit out of unusual curiosity this time as this unexpectedly, to their surprise, came from the exile Tibetan community, a foreign donation receiver community.

The finding says, “Their, Tibetans, failure to keep national interest above regional interest is the root cause that worked to our advantage, shooting the profit up by 10% against previous quarter’s 5%, as the study found”. I SWEAR!

Upon deeper investigation by Mark and Ma into how this finding contributed to the revenue growth, the research team explained further saying, “This created disunity among them (Tibetans) and that keeps them active on our products, Facebook and WeChat.”

Both Mark and Ma are convinced and ordered the sales team to develop a marketing model that would help keep this market factor alive for a long time! Research team suggested to Sales Team to keep cholkas, choluks, rangzen and uma as key parameters while developing the model.

No! For me and my fellow Tibetans, this finding is not good news, particularly at a time when we are going through a most difficult phase in history, when our entire civilisation and its culture is rolling at the edge of extinction under China’s tyrant rule. How we can afford that? But yes, failure to place national interest above sectional interest is the key reason, as found by these companies (I really meant it! Don’t ask for proof, but!), that often we find ourselves caught up in an unending cat fight on Facebook, knowing well that we just can’t afford this at this time! Not at all! Please.

Unity, indeed the most important thing that we always cry for, is not a Halwa that will fall automatically inside by keeping mouth wide open facing the sky. Certain prerequisite causes and conditions are required to be fulfilled and “treating national interest above sectional interest” (referred to as “NoR” hereinafter, National over Regional) is one among them. In fact it is the main prerequisite without which unity will remain a shy bride reluctant to marry us!

We must have the wisdom and courage to see things and analyse them from the perspective of national importance — not from subordinate sectional like provincial, religious, party, and organisational levels — though indeed, these too have their own weightage of relative significance. When faced with a situation of choice between national and sectional, a clash of interest, such that accommodating both is not possible, and having to let go one (reluctantly) is inevitable, as a true patriot Tibetan, we should always have the courage to hug the national one and let go of the sectional interest, no matter how important the sectional one is. We are a proud race whose history is full of such heroic sacrifices, and always proud to narrate them to our children and world. Why we can’t do the same now in 2017?

Frequent eruption of chaos at different intervals is neither, because those who stir such unrest are not anti-social elements, nor they are pro-China. No. Not at all! Failure to place national interest above sectional interest is the only reason to be blamed for ending up in a cat fight, slapping each other with anti-Dalai Lama and anti-democracy charges, using His Holiness and democracy as a tool to mute the other disagreeing party as if the charging party is having monopoly patent rights over it.

The solution lies in the antidote of regionalism which is true patriotism — seeing oneself inseparably one with his fellow countrymen. This comes from a feeling, a sense of belongingness to a common family tree of which the root lies in common culture, history and blood. And thereby the consciousness of all members is soaked deeply in an uncontrived love for his nation and people. For someone who has developed this love, regionalism appears as a self-destructive venom equivalent to suicide, like robbing the same bank where you have your own money. And divisive regional politics is out of the question! Regionalism won’t be able to deceive us any more!

Sounds good? But how?

An analysis of what is good for my nation is auto-inclusively good for my regional interests also, both right now and in the future. And the flip-side, ignoring national interest for regional — a poorly-calculated, self-destructive approach — will convince us of the importance of the NoR (National over Regional) formula, the pillar of unity.

In our case, mere sharing of a common history, having endured unthinkable agony and suffering under Chinese brutal rule alone, should be sufficient for overcoming the addiction of regionalism. But sadly it doesn’t seem working that way! What went wrong? Is China’s atrocity and torture still not enough? When the Chinese bullet released from the gun barrel has never discriminated between Khampa, U-tsang, and Amdo, why should we? When we are never asked if we are Khampa, Amdo, or U-tsang while renewing RC (our stay permit) why should we bother so much? What on earth is eating us that deep to go that regional!

True patriotism is not guaranteed by merely being attired well in Tibetan dress or speaking fluent Tibetan. Nor by eating tsampa every day also. A career-oriented nationalism is a seeming nationalism, not a true nationalism. It is rather more a business model disguised as nationalism, using public platforms for self-promotion. Such nationalism is heavily conditioned on incentives that the player draws into his pocket from the exploitation of public platforms to which he clings to in the name of service to country and people. Once the incentive stops pouring in, whole nationalism also dies along with it!

We can infer from the analysis that having to cling to a public office and position is not an essential requisite if one truly has the dedication to serve nation and people. Happily one can contribute to nation and people independently, without clinging to governmental post and position. We have many such personalities around to quote for examples.

When someone is aggressively coming forward with the claims of wanting to serve nation and people, but says, “I can do that if I get this chair”, extra care must employed to establish the honesty of that claimant before handing over the chair. Once the chair falls into the claimant’s custody, it’s not that easy to retrieve it later on when discovering the claimed honesty is contaminated with hidden self-serving interests. You will find many layers of legal protections and disciplinary formalities to cross in order to pull that chair back.

Treating sectional interest above national interest breeds vested interest groups deviously pressuring government to fulfil their narrow demands. Holding society at ransom by slapping accountability for law and order breach is a common practice of defence mechanism they employ for justifying their counter-measures, which fundamentally are directed at safeguarding their own sectional interests. It looks seemingly lawful in its appearance. But a closer careful observation will reveal that all allegations labelled are skilfully sensationalised or polarised with complete disregard to the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined in the constitution. How democracy can be protected by defeating the very values and ideals of democracy?

Leaving officials elected or appointed, presiding over state apparatus unchecked and unquestioned unconditionally for their accountabilities will render government becoming a kangaroo court where anyone gets sentenced anytime at the sweet will of authority. And our society is in no way immune to such vulnerability. The people’s role in a democratic system doesn’t end at voting and getting their choice of candidate elected. A constant watchful eye on their leaders’ performance, and barking loud enough when any lines are crossed, is a duty as well as a right also. Later, if the system has collapsed in a malfunctioning corrupt state, it will be difficult to be cured back to health. Then the people themselves are to be blamed for not having monitored well when anti-democratic elements were attacking the system, not the leaders then.

Remaining neutral and indifferent when the national interest is threatened and paying safe is cowardice, irresponsible and selfish. It amounts to a dereliction of a sacred duty (kartav) of protecting society that a citizen owes to his nation, and will be counted among defaulters, adharma, the enemy of society. Doing so would result in a nation getting denationalised and pocketed by few elite lutyens for profit, leaving mango people like you and me licking dry voting spoons.

And our democracy, a gift from His Holiness, which we received without having to shed even a single drop of blood, must not suffer any dent at such a young age. It is not only a hope to six million Tibetans, but for millions of oppressed Chinese also, that one day they too will breathe freedom and liberty. For world community and common Chinese to delegitimise and derecognise the CPC, our democracy is the chariot for the war — if the world can be the warrior! We cannot afford to let it become a playing ball in a few incumbent leaders’ hands for a domestic power struggle. It’s an exemplary model that His Holiness, as a global peace advocate, has set to the world: That when a refugee community can go for democracy on foreign soil, why can’t the rest? — referring to dictatorial regimes like Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea, China and so on.

Keeping these wider perspectives in mind, we Tibetans have a responsibility, always, to defend this democracy for Tibetans, for the Chinese, for the world — and thereby proving to the world that Tibetans are capable of taking care of themselves politically during a post-Dalai Lama era.

Otherwise going too much towards regionalism will upset both Tsongtsen Gampo and Langdarma who will yell at us, the former from heaven and the later from hell, for disintegrating their unified great empire of Tibet. And that too at a time when it is at an unpredictable edge of survival or extinction.

Let us fail the marketing model that Facebook is developing! Thank you.


About the author

Kunchok Gyatso, LLM, is a corporate lawyer working as an in-house legal counsel, based at Bangalore. He can be reached at [email protected]

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