News and Views on Tibet

Opinion: Why is the CTA asking Tibetans to donate to Modi’s private fund?

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Illustration by Newlaundry

By Gelek Badheystang

As of May 5, 2021, Tibetans in the Toronto area have collectively donated over $42,000 to help the people in India. Almost everyday, the Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre sends emails to its mailing list, urging people to donate and add to this amount. They are following directives sent by the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).

Why is the CTA directing Tibetan associations in Canada and around the world to collect money on behalf of a private fund started by a prime minister and party that bears the greatest responsibility for the humanitarian crisis unfolding in India right now?

The PM Cares Fund was started without any public consultation or review, under a veil of secrecy and speculation:

Petitions have been filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and in the courts, seeking more transparency. But so far, the fund has avoided any public scrutiny by insisting that PM Cares is not a “public authority”, which means it’s not controlled or substantially financed by the government and so does not come under the RTI Act. It also means that it cannot be scrutinised by government auditors.

Tibetans around the world are being reminded everyday why this fund is so urgent while prime minister Modi himself is avoiding his home constituency of Varanasi as it turns into a crematorium:

“The prime minister and the chief minister have gone into hiding, abandoning Varanasi and its people to their own fate,” the restaurant owner said. “The local BJP leaders are in hiding too. They have switched off their phones. This is the time people need them to help with a hospital bed or an oxygen cylinder but it’s total anarchy here. People are so angry.”

While Delhi is gripped in a deathlock—with hospitals turning into mortuaries, and residents, especially poor people, are gasping for oxygen—Modi insists on building his billion-dollar residence:

Earlier this week, Modi deemed the construction on the site in the heart of New Delhi an essential service, so the nearly 6,000 workers can skirt lockdown rules, despite a 30 percent positive test rate in the congested city

The Indian press is valiantly sacrificing their safety and lives to capture this unprecedented calamity. In return, a record number of reporters have been imprisoned for criticizing how the government has managed the pandemic. Over 125 journalists died in the month of April alone, because of COVID-19.

According to another list, which is updated every five minutes by the Network of Women in Media in India, 175 journalists died in April due to COVID-19. The list includes writers, camera operators, editors, stringers, freelancers and others who work in media across all states in India.

The head of India’s medical association has specifically called out Modi for prioritizing political campaign rallies over fighting the pandemic.

Dr. Navjot Dahiya, vice-president of the Indian Medical Association, a voluntary organisation of medical professionals, has called the Indian prime minister a “super-spreader” of the Covid-19 pandemic. He told The Tribune newspaper that the blame for this devastating second wave lies squarely at the feet of Modi’s government.

The list of testimonies against this government, for this pandemic alone, is endless. And yet we are being pressured to donate to a fund that will help boost the credibility and power of this disgraced leader and administration. Why?

Would it be appropriate for prime minister Trudeau or president Biden to start private funds overseen only by their staff members to fight this pandemic? And then for the CTA to ask Tibetans to donate to them?

If it doesn’t make sense for us to donate to those hypothetical funds, why are we being asked to do so for Modi? And why are CTA officials asking Tibetans to rally behind the PM Cares Fund which has already raised billions of dollars while there are so many more deserving organizations and people doing actual work on the ground, in the midst of the death zones in India?

There is still time yet to reallocate these funds. The tragedy in India, which will soon envelope other places like Nepal, is beyond description. Let us not add to this disaster by being unwitting enablers of a government with blood on their hands.

What are the assurances that the money raised will help the people suffering in India?

The CTA must reallocate those funds. Anything else is simply unconscionable and unacceptable.

(Views expressed are his own)

The author is a communications professional based in Toronto, Canada. He was born and raised in Kathmandu, Nepal, and arrived in Canada as a refugee at the end of 2001. He produces and hosts the podcast series, a Good Refugee Podcast

16 Responses

  1. India is going through a rough time. My prayers and support for India and our Indian brothers and sisters to come out of this pandemic very soon. India is a blessed country and therefore good days will come soon. Stay Strong and Safe!

    Congratulations on CTA for organizing a fund raise to donate to PM CARES and hope more fundraising plans are initiated for other organizations in India. Let’s help India as best and much as possible.

    Om Mani Padme Hun 🙏

  2. There is nothing wrong in opposing, even being personally abusive to Mr Modi or his government. Indian constitution provides this freedom to every citizen. But making such sweeping allegations is simply sad and, if I can term it as SHAMEFUL. This opinion article is simply biased and unwiigy a part of an orchestrated maligning campaign being run by vested interests against Prime Minister Modi and government of India. Its totally absurd and foolish to call it a “PRIVATE FUND” just beause it is being collected on personal initiative of PM Modi. In Indian law it is neither illegal nor unethical to raise a fund for a national emergency like this. Just because law keeps such a fund out of RTI obligations does not make it opaque or a ‘personal’ property of Mr. Modi. We are unfortunate that a section of Indian opposition political parties and leaders, instead of joining hands with the society to fight Covid, have made it a one point agenda to run down a Prime Minister who has been elected twice by the people. These political forces, who were defeated twice by people of India are finding this unfortunate situation as a God sent opportunity to settle scores which they failed miserably in a democratic election. Its sad that a popular Tibetan platform like PHAYUL has been misused to misguide and misinform Tibetan people and friends of Tibet. Its as bad as running down GADEN PHODRANG only because it is a fund presided by HH Dalai Lama’s private trust.

  3. I live in Toronto and donated something immediately as I received email from Tibetan Association. I have trust for the exile government and India. Doesn’t matter whether it will go to PM’s fund or any other department. India is very grateful to Tibet and the fund collected through association was very little. Out of few thousand Tibetans residing in Toronto, only 295 have donated at this very difficult time for India. This number actually embarrassed me that our response to the tragedy in India did not meet even my expectation. It is totally lie that the association sent email every day. I received two times, the first one was urging for donation and the second one was to inform that it has extended deadline till May 9. It is a mass email and did not send every day. Nepal is a country where there is international support every year and condition of covid 19 is not as bad as India. Toronto has many Tibetans immigrated from Nepal and if you feel indebted to Nepal, it is not late to collect donation for Nepal. Do not need anyone to show smart for doing nothing in reality and criticism for this incredible job that allow us to express our concern.

  4. It is easy to argue that PM cares fund is not the right place to donate. Because it is true. I share just as much the same sadness and wish of the author that everyone in India deserves better and faster help. But it isn’t easy for CTA to take an outright firm moral decision like the author or myself for the lack of accountability of PM cares fund in public. The protection Indian government has given to CTA has allowed the first of all Tibetan exile generation to settle even if until today for an aspired eventual return. When CTA as an administration interacts with PM cares fund, it is doing so as an exile administration towards its host government and not specifically Modi. At this time in crisis specifically it is but in times of crisis, we must remember how CTA came to be in the first place , the bigger perspective.

    CTA operates within the limitations of what is allowed , not what it should do. Perhaps a more appropriate question to ask would be what are the limits of CTA in accepting foreign funds in emergency crisis? Naturally, in crisis, many people instinctively donate and transfer money in huge sums abroad. Does the CTA have the state-like power to directly receive and then allocate such funds from decentralised sources in times of world-wide crisis? Is there any other administration in India like CTA overseeing thousands of stateless foreigners who found themselves in similar powerlessness of a let’s say meta-exile-state (it’s a silly term I know but I don’t know what else to say)
    What are the legal and moral obligations constricting CTA? What sentiments they have to forsake in public for a longer term private and common goal of existential legitimacy of CTA and Tibetan struggle?
    As a resident of Mcleod Ganj, a small example that shed perspective on me about how vulnerable my community in its asks , as I grew up, is how the solid waste management in McLeod went through changes in receiving funds from abroad since a new contract system of registration was passed many years ago. When Indian government passes laws like that, we can’t demand other options. We have to find our way around it. People of Mcleod will tell stories of how in the past when the waste management system was in place, there used to be a team of door-to-door solid waste collector who would climb up and down the moutain of stairs and alleys shouting ‘ghye nyik kampo” and well organised trucks would go in and around McLeod to collect wet waste. But over the years , the contract system changed, registration needs to be made, you have to apply to get the contract, the budget has dropped. I spoke to a long time solid waste picker who sends his daughter to the local Tibetan school. One day he was around the kora, sorting out the garbage left by Main temple after tsok. I asked about the wastes and how there isn’t any dustbin from the main square of McLeod to temple.. And he said, there is no money. The only way is you buy dustbin and you put it. But then who will collect it if there is no money for them? Migrants. In that system of waste, Tibetan’s disempowered situation meets with an underpaid migrant waste collector. And I am walking back home after all these information frustrated and very sad and thinking what I can do. I ask my father , a community worker, what I can do and he says it is hard.The education I’ve had in big city in India, or the west, becomes powerless . And that’s why it becomes responsibility of each one of us to support eachother, which is also why in the first place many NGOs are mobilising themselves. There have been in-the ground waste segregation system built but nobody really follows it as well as the past system . And the type of wastes reaching McLeod has changed over the years due to Tourism. So what can I do? I can’t change the system… At tcv schools , students clean the school and class compared to the west where we just go to school. There are limitations in the lives and institutions in exile but we/they still have to live there and think what we can say/ do which doesn’t harm both sides. we are guests into exile. we have a host. I want to make clear that I support the author’s sentiments and can feel his frustration. But I lived in McLeod before I studied and lived abroad, that’s why I am afforded this other perspective. And it makes me doubly sad and happy, because Tibetans all over the world want to help eachother and we are dispersed and we often feel upset. But we will look after eachother.

  5. Whatever we Tibetans have achieved in exile, is all because of the greatness and generosity of the government of India, its leaders, and its great people. Now is the time to give back and share the unprecedented medical tragedy India is passing through.

    It is outright inhuman and insensitive to raise this issue by a person who has not lived in India and then shot off objectionable writing attacking New Delhi and casting doubts over PM-CARES FUND, at a time when the nation is going through the worst human tragedy and the entire world is extending humanitarian support to India. It is not for us to establish or validate the PM-CARES FUND when millions of patriotic responsible Indians have donated responding to the Prime Minister’s appeal. It’s great!
    I am sure that 99% of Tibetans across the world do not share even an iota of what irresponsible speculations made against PM-CARES FUND. Any individual has the right to donate and also the right not to donate. India is passing through the worst human tragedy due to the Wuhan Originated CCP Covid-19 pandemic and the whole world is showing solidarity with India. Exceptional evil CCP China and its agencies.
    We, as Tibetans living in a free world whichever continent or country we live in, it is our supreme responsibility and moral duty to share India’s suffering at this time by showing solidarity and extending our support in whatever limited way possible. This will be the best way to express and show gratitude to the great nation of India and its people for the historic humanitarian support and political sanctuary granted to us for over sixty years – no other nation can match.
    The writer is suffering from an identity crisis as he is spewing so much venom against the BJP government in New Delhi which normally India’s opposition parties and critics of BJP do, to discredit the BJP government and PM Modi. Whatever irresponsible utterances have been made in this article – completely run against the thinking and sentiment of 99.9 % of Tibetans
    It may not be an exaggeration to say that it is a clear insult to the feeling and sentiments of the people of Tibet who hold enormous respect, reverence, love, sense of gratitude and bonding to India, its government and leaders, and the people of India.
    Everything related to Tibet and Tibetans thriving across the world today is mainly because of the greatness of India and its great leaders and people, which sheltered our people, allowed us to prosper and succeed in all areas, and made it possible to rebuild our national religious cultural heritage in India in gigantic scale and speed.

    We Tibetans are least interested in getting involved in India’s domestic party politics, as right now within our small community, we are faced with an unprecedented constitutional crisis of our own making in Dharamshala – which is threatening to gobble up the very foundations of our democratic government-in-exile and Tibetans across the world are finding themselves at wit’s end.
    As Tibetans, we are happy to have this opportunity to make whatever small contribution we can make for the PM-CARES FUND, in gratitude of monumental kindness and humanitarian support and help provided by India to the Tibetans for over sixty years and continuing. It is sheer because of India’s humanitarian help given to the Tibetans at the right time that enabled us to preserve and maintain our national and cultural identity as Tibetans across the world and our freedom movement firmly rooted across the world.
    Having said all this for the sake of clarification, we can be sure that no individual or organization will even think of this writing and viewpoint worth paying attention to.
    Instead, it raises a huge question mark over the intention and purpose of floating such an insensitive and grossly misleading writing at such a time as India’s going through the worst medical crisis.
    Otherwise rest assured that today India and occupied Tibet and the two people – Indians and Tibetans – are united as never before determined to face any challenges, be it Galwan Valley intrusion in Ladakh by PLA, for example.
    No forces can divide the two people and nation united by one cause and one national mission.

  6. While I was in India last year in March, I offered to donate face masks to the Tibetan Government.
    I was asked by the local representative that they would prefer if I donated through them money to the PM Fund.

  7. Sir, I fully agreed with you and thank you for sharing your noble thoughts. If you don’t mind, you can also add that some of our leaders are talking about universal peace and brotherhood, when our own Tibet is brutally suppressed and our unity in exile among our brothers from different provinces are falling apart.

  8. Children should never ask question to father, how you using money . Just repay when father is in problems !

  9. Narendra modi is elected by 1.39 billion Indian and government is running by him . It’s good opportunity to donate in the hand of most powerful person in India by our Tibetan peoples ! Center government is running by Modi government… Tibetan peoples are staying in India by center government land in all over India. And we will be stupid if we donate others instead of PM care . Indian government is our 2nd father ! We have to trust him !

  10. I am extremely happy that someone wrote this. Thank you…

    Many Tibetan has very limited idea and understanding of current Indian politics situation in India under the leadership of PM Modi.
    I strongly recommend and I incourage all Tibetan who wants to donate plz do it for those NGO who are tirelessly work on the ground rather PM care Fund.
    There are few wonderful NGO such as Khalsaaid –
    Delhi base NGO Anhad-
    There are many other NGO as well.

    In my opinion, this government under Modi and AS gas legalised the corruption india.

    1. Sir, please note that the first “NGO” you have recommended is an anti-Indian KHALISTAN organization which is openly supported by Pakistani ISI. They are the same group which blasted Air India’s flight from Canada and murdered over 300 innocent passengers. The other one is a known front desk of terrorist communist MAOISTS (NAXALITES) of India and Nepal who are directly supported, fundes, trained and proteced by Chinese government. WONDERFUL WAY OF SAYING THANK-YOU TO YOUR INDIAN HOSTS? Thank you for being such a great Tibbetan!!!

      1. Agreed with Vijay Kranti , above links to the NGO should be removed. Why did the individual singled out the above two NGOs. Not sure what his motives are? Is he really Tibetan?

    2. Dear PHAYUL editors. It will be a responsible editorial act if you please remove this irresponsible and direly anti-India and pro-terrorist post. It is promoting collection of funds for two so called NGOs which have direct links with: first one with KHALISTAN MOVEMENT which openly supports anti-India terrorism. They are same people who planted bomb and blasted Canada-India flight
      of Air India and murdered over 300 innocent Canadians and Indians in mid air. The second one is a front communist organisation who supports MAOISTS (Naxalite) terror groups of Nepal and India.

  11. Here is what is also misleading. The Kashag translated PM Cares Fund as སྲིད་བློན་ཛ་དྲག་གུད་སྐྱོབས། which sounded very much like PM Disaster Relief fund, a fund that is audited and comes under RTI unlike PM Cares. While the Kashag letter has both English and Tibetan translation, the Office of Tibet, D.C has intentionally or unintentionally omitted the English translation. Therefore, I decided to donate to on the ground organization that helping Indians. Also Kashag needs a better translator for future communications.

  12. I agree with the writer. I had my doubt too about donating a Care, which belongs to one party. As there are so many NGOs without belonging to any particular party, who really helps the poor and needy people.

  13. Please bear in mind that there are almost 70k to 80k Tibetan refugees living with central government issued RC and their home built on land leased by the government. They have neither the luxury of Canadian citizenship nor the constitution to protect them as a citizen.
    You have the freedom enshrined in your constitution which I completely respect but kindly respect our circumstance and condition as well. Your view published here in this website might be considered our view and it might further bring some misunderstanding and problem for us.
    Thank you for your kind cooperation.

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