As the Tibetan people and their supporters across the world celebrate 87th birthday of the
Dalai Lama on this 6th July, some inquisitive, and also a few serious questions too are bound
to pop up in people’s minds. Some of these obvious question are:”What has he achieved in
his six decade long self-chosen exile?”; “Was his decision to escape from Tibet a right one?”;
“What will happen to the cause of Tibet after him?” and; “What are the challenges he has to
meet and settle before his next incarnation takes over the mantle?”. Answers to these
questions may vary. But one common factor which is bound to weave through these answers
and perspectives is that his presence in a free world, far away from the clutches and control
of the Chinese communist system, has helped him in evolving a Tibetan cultural and political
ecosystem which has the potential of carrying the Tibetan struggle far beyond his own life
As a keen and a close-distance observer of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan issue for past
five decades,I have my own set of answers to these questions. One of the biggest
achievements of the current (14th) Dalai Lama is his success in organizing the Tibetan
diaspora into one of the most organized and well-knit refugee communitiesof recent history
and reviving Tibet’s national identity in exile. In March 1959 when he escaped from Tibet,
about 80 thousand Tibetans followed him in exile. On the strength these desperate people
who were completely unfamiliar to the new world in terms of language,social, cultural and
political skills, the Dalai Lama has revived innumerable national cultural institutions of Tibet
which include Drepung, Sera, Ganden and Jokhang. He has also established a universal
franchise based democratic political system for his exile community which regularly elects its
Parliament and the ‘Sikyong’ (an equivalent amalgam of President and Prime Minister)
through secret vote by Tibetans living in over 70 countries today. This ‘Central Tibetan
Administration’ (CTA), a clever misnomer for ‘Tibetan Government-in-Exile’, works from
India’s Himalayan town of Dharamshala and has every branch of a government accepts the
departments like Rail, Mail and Jail.
By formally transferring his political powers as the ‘Head of State’ of Tibet to the collective
conglomerate of the elected Sikyong, the ‘Chitue’ (Parlaiment) and the Judiciary, the Dalai
Lama has given an infinite shelf life to this unique Tibetan institution which has the political
and organizational capacity to take ahead the Tibetan freedom struggle far beyond the life
span of the current and future Dalai Lamas. No wonder the Chinese leaders, especially
current President Xi Jinping, lose their control over their mind and tongue even at the mention
of words like ‘Dalai Lama’, ‘Dharamshala’ and ‘Sikyong’. These less than civilized utterances
from Beijing have time and again proved that the Dharamshala establishment of the Dalai
Lama has come to stay as the most potential challenge to China’s plans of installing a
Chinese puppet as the 15th Dalai Lama after the demise of the current Dalai Lama.
Going by a very similar case of Puyi, the last and the 11th Manchurian emperor of China, one
can say that the Dalai Lama’s decision to escape from Lhasa to avoid arrest or bombing at
the hands of the People’s Republic Army (PLA) was the best, rather the only, choicebefore
him. Puyi (full name Aisin GioroPuyi) was forced to abdicate at the age of 6 when the
Manchurian Empire was thrown out following the ‘Xinhai Revolution’ of the Han people in
1912 and the ‘Republic of China’ came into existence after 268 yearlong slavery under the
Manchurians. Until his death in October 1967 Puyi lived through all humiliation and tortures
for which the Sun Yatsen, Chiang Kaishek and the Communist era of Mao have been known
for. Going by the Hollywood film ‘The Last Emperor’,Puyi was reduced to an anonymous
commoner in the Mao era where he had to buy a ticket to enter his own palace as a visitor.
In sharp contrast to Puyi, regular public opinion polls across the world over past few decades
have been placing the Dalai Lama among the most popular and respected leaders of the
world. Over the years, his campaign for peace, non-violence and ‘Universal-Responsibility’
has won him more than 180 top ranking international awards and honours which include the
Nobel Peace Prize, the Templeton Award, the ‘Congressional Gold Medal’ of the US and the
Magsaysay Award. Despite all hullabaloos and tantrums from Beijing, he has been receiving
standing ovations in dozens of Parliaments and universities across the globe.
If Dalai Lama’s achievements are a source of happiness and satisfaction among his
supporters and well-wishers, the challenges he faces today too are a big reason of worry for
them and Dalai Lama himself. The greatest source of worry and a challenge to the Dalai
Lama and Tibet is China’s ongoing policy of cultural aggression which has taken the
dimensions of a cultural genocide in the Xi Jinping era now. Interestingly, Beijing has
successfullyconverted Tibet into a profit centre by exploiting the negative international
publicity of Tibet and winning billions of tourism-dollars every year. It’s a different matter that
the same monasteries today are known more for the communist brainwashing of the monks
and nuns than for the study of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy. China’s new law on
reincarnation of Tibetan monks, put in force since 2007 has made it compulsory for every
reincarnate Lama to have official stamp of approval of the Communist Party of China(CPC)
before he is installed as the reincarnation of a deceased senior monk. The main target of this
new law is to occupy the institution of Dalai Lama as the supreme political and spiritual leader
of Tibet after present Dalai Lama passes away.
A complete ban on Tibetan language in Tibetan schools; compulsory education in Mandarin
and; forcing the Tibetan parents to deposit their children, in many cases 4-5 year old kids
too, into CPC-operated ‘residential’ schools, is now worrying the Dalai Lama of a scenario
when coming generations of Tibetans will maintain their appearance as Tibetans but their
minds and souls will be pure communist and ‘patriotic’ Hans. To make it further difficult for
Dalai Lama and the CTA, China has effectively closed all escape routes of Tibetans thereby
choking the only fountainhead of fresh manpower. This has impacted the functioning and
survival of Tibetan cultural, educational and administrative institutions in exile.
Yet another worry of Dalai Lama is the ever increasing financial and political influence of
Beijing which can now force governments and parliaments to stop them even from inviting
and listening to Dalai Lama. South African government’s decision to prefer a boycott by the
conference of Nobel Peace Prize winners overfacing China’s threats against issuing visa to
the Dalai Lama is just one example. Spain government’s decision to call special parliament
session just to change its constitution overnight only to save prominent Chinese leaders from
imminent arrest as a result of a forthcoming judgment of its own Supreme Court is another.
In such a challenging scenario the only hope of Dalai Lama and his supporters is their faith
in the final victory of truth and the changing mood among a large number of world
governments who, finally, appear to be waking up to the challenge which Beijing and its
leaders like Xi Jinping have thrown at their sovereignty and existence.

News Desk

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