During his recent trip to the United States, His Holiness the Dalai Lama repeated, to a gathering in Miami, his well known love and admiration for former President George W. Bush. His Holiness said that he found President Bush a very straightforward person and that they struck a personal rapport. He, however, explained that he did not agree with some of the President’s policies.
His Holiness has met President Bush a couple of times. One photo of such a meeting is given below.
One striking aspect of this photo is the footwear of the Dalai Lama. It is a simple pair of flip flops or slippers, as they are known in the Indian subcontinent. These flip flops are made by the Bata shoe company.
Recently, a pair of such slippers worn by His Holiness was donated to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. The presentation, the Museum said in a press statement, coincided with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s three day trip to Toronto. The Museum has now put the “well-worn Bata manufactured rubber sandals” on a special exhibition.
The press statement quotes Representative Lobsang Nyandak, Representative of His Holiness for the Americas as saying, “His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet is happy to donate his long worn Bata slippers to the Bata Shoe Museum.”
Museum Director Emanuele Lepri says, “In their simplicity, the slippers of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are a very inspiring gift for our Museum. This prestigious addition to our collection is a wonderful opportunity to engage our visitors, Torontonians and tourists alike, with the values and the messages promoted by one of the most prominent figures of our current global society.”
You can see here an image of the pair of flip flops as well as some Tibetan shoes that are on display at the Bata Shoe Museum.
On November 2, 2010 Americans will be participating in mid-term elections that is widely seen to be a game changer in American politics. Experts are predicting that the current Democratic-majority House of Representatives will change to a Republican-majority one. This will mean that Speaker Nancy Pelosi will give way to a Republican Speaker, with Representative John Boehner widely believed to be that individual.
Speaker Pelosi has had a long interest in Tibet and the Tibetan issue. A fellow Tibetan American asked me yesterday whether we had any idea of Congressman Boehner’s views on Tibet. A pointer may be his remarks at the ceremony in the Capitol on October 17, 2007 to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Read More…
Nepalese are questioning the logic behind the Nepalese police action against Tibetans in Kathmandu, who were holding their elections on October 3, 2010. In comments to Nepalese media that have reported on this action, these Nepalese have called for the Nepal Government to assert its independent and sovereign status in providing the Tibetan refugees basic human rights. Read More…
On October 3, 2010 the Tibetans in Diaspora took another step in the direction of determining their own political destiny through a worldwide (outside of Tibet and China, of course) election to select who should act on their behalf in this effort.
These elections will continue to become important until there is a political solution as they touch the very core of the issue, namely the legitimacy of the rule. Unlike other movements, the Tibetan movement enjoys that rare privilege of having a unified leadership institution in the form of an administrative structure formally known as the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). Tibetans may have issues against some of its policies, people may not like some of the personalities who serve this administration but there is no one Tibetan that denies its legitimacy. That has been the Tibetan movement’s strength, something very much perceived by those in the Chinese leadership who are against any reconciliation on the issue of Tibet.
Over the years efforts have been made by the Chinese authorities to undermine the CTA, create discord between the Tibetan people and the CTA, and make it irrelevant. In the process they have attempted to pitch Tibetans against Tibetans, whether it is favoring a select few disgruntled “overseas Tibetans” with various incentives or using writings of individuals like Jamyang Norbu (excerpting those sections that help their case) to present a very dismal and disunited picture of Tibetans in exile.
Similarly, the instability that has been the highlight of the Nepalese Government has provided the Chinese Government with willing officials there who play into their hands to deny basic and fundamental rights to Tibetan refugees in Nepal. On October 3 we witnessed on such attempts when local officials seized ballot boxes from the Tibetan community in Nepal’s capital, who were participating in this worldwide elections.
The above highlights the very unique environment under which Tibetans in exile are experimenting with democracy. The upcoming Tibetan leadership will have to think of ways to overcome these challenges.
But there is a message for all Tibetans, too. We must all do whatever possible to strengthen Tibetan democracy by being active participants in this process. Using our freedom of speech is very much a part of this process as also is being responsible for what we say and do. Similarly, we should be able to walk the talk. In the next several days we will get to know the voter turnout for the primary elections held on October 3. I hope this will be one of the highest turnouts that we have had.
Tibetan Democracy in Action: Phase One
Bhuchung K. Tsering
October 1, 2010
On October 3, 2010 two days from now, Tibetans in the free world will be undertaking a major political action through a preliminary election (”primary”) to identify candidates for the post of the Kalon Tripa, the Chairman of the Tibetan Cabinet, as well as for the 44 parliamentary seats.
This election year is different from the past for quite a few reasons.
Introduction of non-traditional campaigning: Since the introduction of the democratic process of voting in the Tibetan Diaspora in the 1960s the small Tibetan community has evolved a unique campaigning style of its own. In the initial few years individuals were elected through word of mouth campaigning to an extent based on regional or related allegiances. During this period the individuals themselves did not campaign for votes and mostly held the position that they did not see themselves as capable but were willing to serve the community in whatever way they could. Subsequently, there have been some “voluntary candidates” for the Tibetan Parliament. Read More…