The Tibetan Exile Narrative Has Transformed from a Victim Mindset to One of Success: CTA President

CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay addressing the concluding session of the Tibetan settlement officers’ conference. Photo/Jamyang Tsering/DIIR

DHARAMSHALA: CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay today addressed the concluding session of the four-day annual Administrative Conference of Tibetan Settlement Officers organised by the Department of Home at Nyatri Hall in Gangchen Kyishong. The conference which began on 22 June deliberated on a wide range of issues focusing on seven main agendas.

In his address, President Dr Sangay expressed his views on the seven agendas of the conference and said that the topics of discussion are extremely pertinent to the Tibetan community in exile in the present situation. He said that His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s security is the top priority for the entire Tibetan people and that the Tibetan administration led by the Kashag will leave no stone unturned in that regard.

Speaking about the Tibetan exile community, he said that the narrative of the Tibetan exiles has transformed over the years from one of victim mindset to that of a success story. “Earlier when we used to ask for funds from donors, we speak about the hardships and challenges faced by Tibetan refugees. However, when we ask for funds now, we explain them our ability to transform the projects that we undertake into a success story. And it’s true. The average Tibetan household in the settlements live better than their counterparts in nearby villages and towns. The same goes for Tibetan schools and monasteries,” he said.

“This ability to implement projects efficiently and successfully has evoked admiration from our funders and aid groups. For instance, the first Tibetan Refugee Livelihood Support Program (TRLSP) was a tremendous success. We provided advances to Tibetan sweater sellers and it was repaid 100% by the participants. This prompted more funds from the aid groups which led to an expansion of the project. The project now includes not just sweater sellers but also taxi services, caravan services and trinket businesses,” he added.

Dr Sangay also talked about the Kashag’s five-fifty vision, Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy Act 2014, home department’s rehabilitation and housing initiative for newly arrived Tibetans, CTA’s zero tolerance towards gender and sexual violence, and women empowerment policy of the Central Tibetan Administration.

Drawing on his recent official visits to Canada and Israel, Dr Sangay further spoke about current trends in global and international politics, particularly focusing on the rise of nationalism and extremism, and the decline of internationalism and liberalism. Riding on a wave of globalisation and liberalism, he said that the Tibetan movement has enjoyed massive popularity in the last few decades. However, he noted that due to changes in the current political scenario, nations have started looking inward rather than outward. This is evidenced by policies such as America first, Italy first, Germany first, etc, he said.

Dr Sangay also discussed the situation inside China particularly with regard to Chinese President Xi Jinping and the recent changes in the Chinese constitution abolishing the presidential term limit. He said that to understand Chinese leaders, we have to understand the ideologies and practices of the erstwhile Chinese emperors. “As one Harvard scholar said, no matter how developed a nation becomes, their way of thinking will be based on their cultures and tradition. The same goes for China. When Xi Jinping abolished the presidential term limits, he was not making himself ‘president for life’, he was rather crowning himself Chinese emperor and China as an empire. And empires expand to portray power, that’s why, there is apprehension among nations particularly those in China’s neighbourhoods of China’s intentions,” he remarked.

The welcome address of the concluding session was delivered by Home Kalon Sonam Topgyal Khorlatsang. He also gave a brief overview of the four day conference and the discussions that took place. The vote of thanks was delivered by Additional Secretary Tsewang Gyalpo Arya.

The four-day conference was inaugurated by Officiating President Ven Karma Gelek Yuthok, Kalon of the Department of Religion and Culture on 22 June.

CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay (C) with Home Kalon Sonam Topgyal Khorlatsang and Additional Secretary Tsewang Gyalpo Arya on the right and Home Secretary Chimmey Rigzin and Additional Secretary Tsewang Dolma on the left. Photo/Jamyang Tsering/DIIR

Home Kalon Sonam Topgyal Khorlatsang addressing the concluding session of the conference. Photo/Jamyang Tsering/DIIR

Participants of the conference. Photo/Jamyang Tsering/DIIR

Group photo of the participants with CTA President Dr Lobsang Sangay. Photo/Jamyang Tsering/DIIR