NEW DELHI: His Holiness the Dalai Lama would rather hand over charge to an elected government than wield supreme authority over the Tibetan people.
“When the day comes for our return with a certain degree of freedom, then I will hand over all my authority to the local Tibetan government,” he said in an interview with The Indian Express editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV's Walk the Talk programme.
The Dalai Lama also welcomed the growing closeness between India and China, saying: “Genuine friendship on the basis of mutual trust between these two nations, the most populous countries on earth, is essential _ it is in the interest not only of these two countries but of the whole world.''
He did not think China's growing power antagonistic to the Tibetan cause either. “From the wider perspective, I feel the Tibetan cause is very hopeful. The awareness about Tibet, Tibetan culture, Tibetan spirituality, and also sensitivity toward the Tibetan environment, is growing - not only outside, but even among the Chinese,” he said.
Almost concurring with the Chinese Communist view that the Dalai Lama was a feudal institution, he said, “It's an old institution, and it's actually gone...I have no concern about this institution. The Dalai Lama has been the head of both temporal and spiritual matters in Tibet for over 300 years. But that's past.''
He went on to recall his 1992 statement when he made it clear that on return to China, he would “…hand over all my authority to the local Tibetan government. Hopefully, that local government should eventually be an elected government''.
In fact, he added, even while in exile “…for the last four years, we have already had an elected political leadership. Since then, my position is something like semi-retirement. I have more freedom now, more free time''.
The Dalai Lama had appreciation for communist ideology too and controversial Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez. In an evocative tribute to communism, he said, “I think genuine, honest communism or socialism has a lot in common with Buddhism, particularly with Mahayana Buddhism.
“Sometimes, I describe myself as half-Marxist, half-Buddhist. Marxian economy is not only concerned with profit, but with distribution. It has serious concern for the less privileged - and that means the majority. That altruism is a Buddhist concept too.''
As for Hugo Chavez, he said “The poor really appreciate their new president. It seems he takes real concern for the rights of the poor.”