I happen to attend a Leadership program for the Tibetan Women’s Association. Least to say, it was a wonderful experience that very few trainers in the corporate sector can hope to get. It is more than just the training experience that I wanted to talk here.
On the 50th anniversary of Tibetan occupation by the Chinese, there was a lot said by some of the most leading newspapers such as the New York Times and the UK Times and quoted one of the most prominent speakers of Tibetan struggle – His Holiness The Dalai Lama. When I attended this program, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet the Tibetan women and know more about their lives. I realized how disconnected we are from the rest of the world. At least, most of us remain apathetic to the concerns of others, or in a more mellowed tone, I would say, we remain preoccupied with our own lives that we do not recognize or understand the depth of other’s problems and concerns.
I realized for the first time, how much we should value the independence that we enjoy today. When I spoke to the Tibetan women, they told me that many of them have to live in India, away from their families, in order to pursue their education. Their calls are screened and hence can barely talk anything more than just pleasantries. Written mails are also scanned by the Chinese Government and hence cannot even write proper mails. Some of them try to send them through their fellow Tibetans who might be visiting Lhasa. But, this opportunity is also rare and not often a very safe means. The Chinese Government could improve the Tibetan region with the latest infrastructure facilities, but what use is it, if the basic human rights are curtailed? Some of the women we spoke to felt curtailed and always felt inferior or may be less privileged to be living outside their homeland.
In the course of the program, these women came up with their stories. Some had to leave their parents behind in the pursuit of a better life and to continue to help free Tibet and some had been orphaned. Dharmsala in Himachal Pradesh is the center for all the activities for the Tibetans outside Tibet and it is also the official seat from where H.H The Dalai Lama operates. There is a boarding school which is run by the Tibetans, for the Tibetan children. This school takes care of all the requirements of these children and enables them to stand on their feet. The primary mode of teaching is Tibetan for these children in the boarding schools and they are taught of Tibetan culture and values. They seem to have one issue, when mingling with Indians, especially in the north that of the Hindi language. Well, most of the South Indians are also a part of similar conflict when trying to speak in Hindi. These students also practice Buddhism. Some of the students of the boarding school later become the teachers and we had one such lady amongst us. These women might look frail and quiet in appearance, but there is something very strong inside them that evokes respect for them.
I met a dynamic young lady who had represented Tibet at various international forums and now works in a NGO. She shared her experiences with us. She and her sister were orphaned and somehow managed to run to India. They received extreme care and affection from the boarding school that they did not miss their family. One can see the pain and anguish in many of them, but on the same level they are women one would want to be associated with. She and a group of friends started a Tibetan Radio – Voice of Tibet.
Their objective is:
“Voice of Tibet’s main objectives are to provide a channel for unbiased information and news to the Tibetans living under Chinese oppression in Tibet, to help preserve the threatened Tibetan culture, to educate the Tibetans in internationally acknowledged human rights, to inform about democracy and the democratic institutions of the Tibetan exile community, and to help prevent conflicts and discrimination. Another main objective is to improve communications within as well as between the Tibetan exile communities.”
Another young lady was a practicing physiotherapist who regularly takes time out to do some free service for various people. There was also a bright software engineer and budding statistician and many others who still have the spirit of Tibet going in them and would someday want to see a free Tibet. Amongst them, were also some who don’t connect with Tibet and are apathetic to its cause. It is obvious to have such feelings, if they are born outside Tibet and have experienced a free life here in India. It is not easy to continue to fight for freedom while living outside your homeland.
Honestly, this experience made me grateful for my freedom and also made me realize how much we abuse it. I feel that the Tibetans should receive all the support and they should continue to fight for their freedom. It is every individual’s birth right and the Chinese Government can never be supported for any kind of justifications they might give.
Signing off with a fervent wish for a free Tibet!