All those who have faith in the future of humanity and of the long suffering people of Tibet should not fail to watch and further disseminate an extraordinary interview with an extraordinary human being, namely His Holiness the Dalai Lama, by Barkha Dutt, Group Editor of NDTV. The interview was carried out by her at Bodhgaya in India’s Bihar before the conclusion on January 10,2012, of the Kalachakra, a Tibetan Buddhist religious observance during which His Holiness conducts special teachings on Buddhism for 10 days and provides spiritual guidance to his followers.
2.Thousands of Buddhists from all over the world including the Tibetan areas and mainland China attended the Kalachakra and benefited from the teachings and guidance of His Holiness.
3.For those who were not able to watch the fascinating interview on NDTV, it is available on the web at http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/the-buck-stops-here/just-a-human-being-the-dalai-lama-in-bodh-gaya/220748?pfrom=home-lateststories.
4. The extraordinary human qualities of His Holiness as brought out in the interview were already well known. What is so gratifying in the interview is the infectious optimism of His Holiness regarding the future of the cause of his people. Ever since His Holiness transferred all his powers as the de jure head of the Tibetan-Government-in-exile to a successor elected by the Tibetan diaspora last year, a question repeatedly posed all over the world is : Is it the beginning of the end of the Tibetan cause?
5. The interview brings out very clearly the Dalai Lama’s confidence in the ultimate triumph of the cause of the Tibetan people and Tibetan Buddhism despite the continuing sufferings of his people in the Tibetan areas of China. The Dalai Lama rightly interprets the continuing instances of self-immolation in the Tibetan areas, particularly in Western Sichuan province---however regrettable for the loss of precious human lives--- as an indicator that the self-motivation of the Tibetan people ---monks as well as others--- and their determination to safeguard their religious, cultural and ethnic rights remain as strong as ever.
6.Neither His Holiness nor his senior advisers are happy over the loss of lives due to the self-immolations, but when people have no other way of expressing their protest and giving vent to their desperation, how can we blame them for taking this extreme step?
7. Despite the severe repressive measures of the Chinese, the attempts at self-immolation continue. There have been three more reports since the beginning of this year---two from Sichuan and one from the Qinghai province. The self-immolation of a 42-year-old monk---the oldest so far--- in the Qinghai province reportedly brought out thousands of Tibetans into the streets to express their solidarity with him.
8. However much one might regret these self-immolations, stopping them is in the hands of the Chinese rulers. Unless they stop their repression of the Tibetan people, restore their religious, cultural and ethnic rights and resume talks with officials of His Holiness for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the problems and aspirations of the Tibetans, this tragedy is likely to continue.
9.2012 is going to be a year of transition in China---with new leaderships taking over in the Communist Party of China and in the Government. This is the time for introspection by the Chinese leaders on a new and more humane way of dealing with the grievances and aspirations of the Tibetan people.
10. It is hoped that His Holiness’ interview would be seen by Chinese leaders and policy-makers and pave the way for such an introspection as a prelude to new policies meant to safeguard the dignity and culture of the Tibetan people instead of crushing them as Beijing has been doing till now. ( 10-1-12)
( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )