By Tenzin Pedon Paldentsang
A nation’s success or failure depends largely on the policies adopt by the Government, a strong or weak government policies depends largely on the visions of leader and ministers we choose, and therefore, while we have all the time, tool and most importantly, the right and freedom 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 duly following these democratic practices fairly. Healthy democratic practices are, including but not limited to, debating, interviewing, reading their articles if ever written by them, among others. The whole idea is to become a person who is well-informed about these prospective leaders and their policies that they say would adopt.
Finding out who should lead our Tibetan political struggle with dignity, integrity, vision, and experience becomes even more challenging especially during this pandemic time. However, thanks to the tool available for disposal that really helps people to engage in political process without having to endanger their life. Yes, I am talking about one-and-only, ‘the internet’. Today, we are in a new society, a society that is battling with deadly disease on one hand and trying to keep up with our progressive action to bring change with creative idea, on the other. Whether we like it or not, the fact is that we are dependent on internet more than ever irrespective of what purpose we use internet today. Some people try to bring positive changes in society using this very tool while others try to manipulate the situation to his or her favour by resorting to spreading fake news, rumours, misinformation etc.
Can we wipe out or eradicate this illegal and unethical actions of influencing society and people with distorted facts and misleading information through internet? It is yet to be seen however, my logical conclusion leans more toward pessimistic view than optimistic view on this subject, at least for now.
This small article is, therefore, dedicated to all those open-minded people who are unbiased and at the same time, have not made their mind yet to choose one person as a leader keeping in mind few important things such as our apparently shrinking unity, Tibet-China relationship and the pandemic, so long as it remains a threat. Let us now consider here the first and foremost important factor i.e., our unity.
Our Apparently Shrinking Unity
Unity is strength, and so goes the song written by John Dickson in 1768 entitled ‘Liberty Song’ that contained the line ‘United We Stand, Divided We Fall’ emphasising the same. Prior to this song, the same phrase was used by Benjamin Franklin to Abraham Lincoln in different occasions in American history to invoke unity among Americans as and when needed. Without unity there is no way we can solve even a minor domestic issue let alone national issue. It is very saddening to notice and experience the rift and division created among our people based on politics, regionalism and favouritism today. Therefore, there is an uphill task for our upcoming leader to forge unity among our people and hence, he or she should be someone who can and should walk the talk in bringing unity back as was enjoyed by Tibetans during His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama’s political reign. We, as citizens, thus have this 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 because without unity, we are just a negligible small regional group that will further get divided into even smaller sub-regional groups thereby losing our long-term political vision.
It has been a decade since Tibet-China diplomatic relationship has been paused. But instead, growing number of division among people based on which province they belong, which political approach they adopt, social media fight within 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 resides in India, Nepal and Bhutan political aspiration would be the shift in their priorities from long term political goal which is to resolve Tibet-China political issue to achieving socio-economics prosperity and stability within the Tibetan communities in those three countries. And this is evidently 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 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 general public to most of the sikyong 2021 candidates.
I feel this is very concerning situation because our very political system was established primarily for achieving our long-term goal of solving Tibet-China political conflict rather than bringing socio-economic prosperity that could potentially have a negative impact on our political struggle as our people most likely engage in enjoying the socio-economic prosperity thereby forgetting 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 of the refugees in the world today in terms of socio-economic developments, 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 already snapped political dialogue between Tibetan and Chinese diplomats as urgently as possible. He or she must have effective innovative plans to regain Chinese counterpart’s trust in order to move forward. We need a leader who not only shares this political vision of resolving Tibet-China political conflict as soon as possible, but even in practice, carries out this political agenda successfully. After all, Tibetan issue was never a socio-economic one rather 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 our history. This disease is an invisible enemy of humanity endangering the entire human race so to deal with it, governments and agencies entrusted to safeguard human beings 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 those safety precautionary measures put in place by governments, 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’s life is a big loss for our cause.
Therefore, 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 utterly stupidity to go on campaigning during this deadly pandemic time as we are not only risking our own life but of many others as well when hundreds and thousands gather. Since I have already mentioned about this tool called internet that is readily available for use, there is nothing better and safer than conveying your messages and sharing your political vision through the internet. You can participate in political debate, get interviewed, engage in political dialogues, you can do pretty much of everything (the word ‘everything’ here confines only to political activities) on internet. Why not use this effective tool more than going out risking one’s own life and of others in this unforgiving time? We need to let our potential leader realize the value to his or her own life and of others as well by reminding all of them not to participate in any physical campaigning at least during this pandemic time, instead go online and use the internet platform to engage in political discussion if one may have to. There are harsher challenges to be faced and more battles to be fought in future so stay alive and motivated. Do not let your life go wasted for no reason.
I urge everyone to use your time to know each one of sikyong candidate as best as you could before you make your final decision. Don’t get brainwashed by sweet talk, hollow promises. Use your logical analysis thoroughly rather than regionalism, favoritism, blindly following what other says and I can promise you that you will not regret at the end.
Until then stay safe!
Bod Gyalo and Long Live His Holiness.
(Views expressed are her own)
The author works at Denmark based biotech firm Novozymes. She holds a Master degree in biochemistry from the university of Mysore, and was selected as one of young scientist fellowship from friedrich schiller university in 2012.