BANGALORE, India, 21 December 2020
A nation’s success or failure depends largely on the policies adopted by their government, and strong or weak government policies depend largely on the visions of the leader and ministers we choose. Therefore, while we have all the time, tools, and most importantly, the rights and freedoms to scrutinise each one of the prospective leaders under our democratic system of government’s process to ensure the right person get to the position that he deserves, it becomes very crucial for citizens like us to take this responsibility of choosing the deserving candidate by following these democratic practices. Healthy democratic practices include, but are not limited to, debating, interviewing, and reading articles written by the candidates.
Finding out who should lead our Tibetan political struggle with dignity, integrity, vision, and experience becomes even more challenging during this pandemic time. Thankfully we have tools available that really help people to engage in political process without having to endanger their life. Yes, I am talking about the one-and-only ‘Internet’. Today, we are in a new society, a society that is on one hand battling with deadly disease, and on the other trying to keep up with our progressive action to bring change with creative ideas. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that we are dependent on the Internet more than ever irrespective of what other purposes we use the Internet for today. Some people try to bring positive changes in society using this very tool; others try to manipulate the situation by spreading fake news, rumours, and misinformation.
Can we wipe out or eradicate these illegal and unethical actions of influencing society and people with distorted facts and misleading information through the Internet? This is yet to be seen, however, my logical conclusion leans more towards a pessimistic view than an optimistic one on this subject.
This small article is, therefore, dedicated to all those open-minded people who are unbiased, who have not made their mind yet to choose one person as a leader, keeping in mind a few important things such as our apparently shrinking unity, the Tibet-China relationship, and the Coronavirus pandemic. Let us now consider here the first and foremost important factor: Our unity.
Our apparently shrinking unity
Unity is strength, and so goes the song “Liberty Song”, written by John Dickson in 1768, that contained the line “United we stand, divided we fall”. The same phrase was used from Benjamin Franklin to Abraham Lincoln on different occasions in American history to invoke unity among Americans. Without unity there is no way we can solve even a minor domestic issue, let alone national issues. It is very saddening to experience the rifts and divisions created among our people today based on politics, regionalism, and favouritism.
There is an uphill task for our upcoming leader to forge unity among our people. This person should be able to walk the talk in bringing back the unity that was enjoyed by Tibetans during His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s political reign. We as citizens thus have an urgent duty of finding out who is capable and willing to bridge this gap that seems to be widening each passing day from all those vying to become our future Sikyong, the elected Tibetan president. I consider this as the most important factor among all others. Without unity, we are just a negligible small regional group that will further get divided into even smaller sub-regional groups and lose our long-term political vision.
The Tibet-China relationship
It has been a decade since the diplomatic relationship between Tibet and China has been on hold. Instead, there has been a growing division among people based on which province they belong to, which political approach they adopt, and social media fights within the exile community, among other things. Our long-term political goal has been negatively impacted. To give a simple example to explain how adversely these factors have affected the common Tibetan people who reside in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, political aspiration would be the shift in their priorities from long term political goal, which is to resolve the Tibet-China political issue to achieving socio-economic prosperity and stability within the Tibetan communities in those three countries. And this is clear from the fact that the vast majority of our Tibetan people from these three countries are now raising questions about how to strengthen unity within the exile community, their well-being schemes and policies more often than raising the questions concerning the long-standing Tibet-China conflicts and how to resolve it amicably as seen from questions being asked by the general public to most of the Sikyong 2021 candidates.
I feel this is a very concerning situation. Our own political system was established primarily for achieving the long-term goal of solving the Tibet-China political conflict, rather than bringing socio-economic prosperity that could potentially have a negative impact on our political struggle as our people would most likely engage in enjoying the prosperity and forget the very reason why we are fighting this political battle in the first place.
By the blessing of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tibetans are far better off than most refugees in the world today in terms of socio-economic development. In fact, we are the most fortunate ones I feel. It is, therefore, highly important that we find a leader who has the potential and willingness to re-establish the political dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese diplomats as urgently as possible. They must have effective innovative plans to regain their Chinese counterpart’s trust in order to move forward. We need a leader who not only shares this political vision of resolving the Tibet-China political conflict as soon as possible, but even in practice, carries out this political agenda successfully. After all, the Tibetan issue was never a socio-economic one — it is a political one from the beginning.
With millions already dead and tens of millions sick with this Covid-19 Pandemic across the world, we are in one of the most challenging times of history. This disease is an invisible enemy endangering the entire human race. To deal with it, most governments and agencies entrusted with safeguarding human lives in a situation like this have been doing their best to prevent this disease as soon as possible. And as an obedient citizen, we are obligated to follow all the safety measures they have put in place — for example, wearing mask, washing hands properly, maintaining social distance, etc. No matter what stage of election we may be into, we must follow these Covid-19 preventive measures strictly, because losing even one Tibetan life is a big loss for our cause.
We cannot afford to lose our people’s lives so cheaply. Every Tibetan’s life is precious as we all jointly fight this political battle, and we will achieve our goal if pursued persistently. It is utter stupidity to go on campaigning in person during this deadly pandemic time, as we are not only risking our own life but that of many others as well when people gather together. This wonderful tool called the Internet is readily available for use: There is nothing better and safer than conveying your messages and sharing your political vision through it.
You can participate in political debate, get interviewed, engage in political dialogue. You can do pretty much every political activity on the Internet. Why not use this effective tool rather than going out risking lives in this unforgiving time? We need to let our potential leader realize the value to their own life and of others as well by reminding all of them not to participate in any physical campaigning during this pandemic time — instead go online and use the Internet platform to engage in political discussion. There are harsher challenges to be faced and more battles to be fought in future, so stay alive and motivated.
I urge everyone to use your time to know each one of the Sikyong candidates as best as you can before you make your final decision. Don’t get brainwashed by sweet talk and hollow promises this time. Use your logical analysis thoroughly rather than regionalism, favoritism, and blindly following what others say. I promise you that you will not regret it.
About the author
Tenzin Pedon Paldentsang is a Bangalore-based tech specialist for the biotech industry.