Just my two cents worth



Tibetan Environment in New York

The Asia Soceity in New York City is having a day-long conference today (January 16) on “Meltdown: The Impact of Climate Change on the Tibetan Plateau.” This is but the latest indication about the significance of the environment in Tibet to the region and the world. The conference features “IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, distinguished glaciologists Lonnie Thompson and Yao Tandong, environmental experts from China, the UK, the US, Australia and the Tibetan Autonomous Region, as well as mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears.” It seems there are some Tibetan speakers, too.

Some of my colleagues have gone up to New York to attend this and I am looking forward to their impression. Taking this opportunity I am posting here a paper that I prepared (I was then working in Dharamsala at the Tibetan Department of Information & International Relations) in 1993 on Tibetan environment that was presented at a conference in France.

An analysis of environment and development issues in Tibet
By Bhuchung K. Tsering
(Paper presented at the International conference on the state of environment in Tibet: III Pole, Environment & People of Tibet, Paris. September 30 to October 1, 1993)
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A Look at Quality of Life in Tibet

On January 12, 2009, the Tibet Autonomous Region officials began their annual session of the TAR People’s Political Consultative Conference in Lhasa. Different officials have started reporting on how they have worked to improve the lives of the Tibetan people. Interestingly, this time they are highlighting, among others, the fact that some of the speakers are speaking in Tibetan during sessions as an important achievement.

In any case, if they want to look at the more substantive issues of the improvement of the quality of life of those Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region, I think more comprehensive policy need to be initiated. I wrote the following in 2006 based on the findings of a UN report. I had a quick look at the 2008 UNDP China Development Report “Access for All” and the picture seems the same. For example, in the figures (2005) provided for percentage of comprehensive inoculation by provinces, Tibet has the lowest. If we look at prenatal inspection rates (2006), Tibet is the lowest in the figures given for provinces.

A Look at Quality of Life in Tibet

Bhuchung K. Tsering

Tibetan Review

February 2006

A new UN report that includes information on the quality of life of the Tibetan people indicates that Tibetans are virtually at the bottom of the economic and social ladder. In addition to being worse of than others in China, there is a growing disparity between Tibetans in rural areas and in urban areas. Some other information in the report also makes me feel that there is a new social division; Continue reading “A Look at Quality of Life in Tibet”

Intellectual Property and the Tibetans

The matter of Intellectual property rights is comparatively new to the Tibetan society. With the increasing exposure to the outside world there is greater awareness about the issue then it was in 1999 when I wrote the following article.

Copyrights and copy wrongs
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review
August 1999

In June the Voice of Tibet (VOT) aired a complaint from a member of the now defunct music group Rangzen Shonu asking why it had not sought permission for broadcasting one of the group’s songs. VOT’s response was that it had secured permission from another member of the group. While this problem may have been resolved thus, it raises an important question about intellectual property rights in the Tibetan community.
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The Broader Tibetan Cultural World

Like the ancient Romans the Tibetans, too, have a broader cultural world that goes beyond the political Tibet of today. While we know of the communities in the south-western borders of Tibet (the following article, which I wrote in 2007) is about one such communities, called the Sherpas), there has been less attention on the communities to the south-east and east, who include the Jang (Naxi) people, the Muso and even what is being called the Xixia by Chinese and Minyak by Tibetans. I am told there are some Western scholars who study the Minyak people.

Anyway, enjoy the following for the moment.

Anyone Ever Heard of Karma Paul?
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review, October 2007

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A Yak on Madison Avenue

One evening last week, I was just surfing through the channels on TV and on my favourite PBS station there was a program in progress concerning a Yak rancher in, of all places, Cheyenne, Wyoming. Willis Larson, the rancher, has been herding yaks. The programme was episode 201 of America’s Heartland series.

Many years back I remember reading an article by Jamyang Norbu la titled “A Yak on Madison Avenue.” If I remember it correctly it was about one of the early tour of the United States by artistes of the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, which he had accompanied.

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Enter the Tibetan Americans

Enter the Tibetan Americans

One of the challenges to the small Tibetan-American community in the United States is having to adapt to our new hyphenated identity. The feeling of Tibetanness is so strong amongst the Tibetan Americans that in many cases even though several decades may have passed since they have immigrated to this country many continue to regard themselves only as being “Tibetan.”

In the following writeup, a version of which appeared in the newsletter of the London-based Tibet Foundation in February 2001, I talk about the relevance of the hyphenated identity.

Tibetan Americans establish a presence in the United States.

Bhuchung K. Tsering

Tibet Foundation Newsletter

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Black Americans and Tibetans

It is not only January and a New Year (Happy New Year and Tashi Delek to all), but closer home, the United States will see a new President take charge on January 20. Everyone says Barack Obama has created history with his African-American background. What appropriate time than this to talk about Tibet and how it resonates among the African Americans. I wrote the following in 1999.

Black Americans and Tibetans
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review
July 1999

If you look at the Tibet movement in the United States, or, for that matter, throughout the world, one of the glaring points is the absence of a major support base among the Black community. President Nelson Mandela of South Africa is the only African political leader showing an interest in Tibet. Among spiritual leaders we again have to turn to Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.

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What Ails All India Radio’s Tibetan Service?

If there is one example of shortsightedness of Indian policy makers when it comes to Tibet, then it definitely is the Tibetan service of All India Radio. I wrote the following article nearly two years back, and a recent check revealed that things have remained the same even now. For the life of me I cannot understand why the target area is just the Tibet Autonomous Region. There are even more Tibetans living outside of the TAR in Kham and Amdo areas, not to speak about the Tibetan-speaking population along the southern belt of the Himalayas in Bhutan and Nepal.

However, here are some other interesting facts about the Tibetan service as published by All India Radio’s External Services Division.

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Tibetans and Vegetarianism

In terms of social changes in the Tibetan community, dietary preference is something that is slowly making its mark. Many people feel Tibetans being Buddhist and mostly non-vegetarian is something contradictory. Tibetans have a historical-geographical justification for prefering meat. Anyway, among the attempts made was the transformation of the cafeteria for officials of the Tibetan Government in Dharamsala into Vegetarian for one year in 2007. I wrote about it then and here it is.

Veggie Days at the Tibetan Staff Mess
Bhuchung K. Tsering
Tibetan Review, May 2007

Continue reading “Tibetans and Vegetarianism”

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