February 6, 2018
Published By Jamphel Shonu

In light of the year-long ‘Thank You India-2018’ campaign launched by the Central Tibetan Administration, a number of events and programs have been rolled out to observe the campaign. Tibet TV conducted an interview with Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR) Secretaries Sonam Norbu Dagpo and Dhardon Sharling who are also the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Organizing Committee.

Below is the transcript of the interview hosted by Tibet TV’s Deputy Director Tenzin Wangchuk.

Tibet TV:. In today’s panel discussion with DIIR Secretary Sonam Norbu Dagpo and Secretary Equivalent Tenzin Dhardon Sharling, we will discuss the significance of observing the campaign in 2018, the series of campaign panned out throughout India and how Tibetan public will be participating in the campaign.

First question to Secretary Dagpo, how is the yearlong Thank you India campaign going to be organised and what are the committees in charge of supervising and organising the program.

Sonam Dagpo: Under the leadership of Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration, Tibetans in exile will be observing 2018 as Thank you Year in order to commemorate the 60th year since His Holiness the Dalai Lama stepped foot on India. We have an advisory committee and an organising committee. The advisory committee is chaired by President Dr Lobsang Sangay, and members are Kalon Karma Yeshi, Department of Finance, Kalon Choekyong Wangchuk, Department of Health, Kasur Tempa Tsering and Representative Kasur Ngodup Dongchung, Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and DIIR Secretaries, Sonam Norbu Dagpo and Tenzin Dhardon Sharling.

Members of the organising committee are DIIR Secretaries Sonam Dagpo and Tenzin Dhardon Sharling, Secretaries of Department of Religion and Culture, Department of Home, Department of Education, Secretary of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Delhi, ITCO Director Karma Dhargyal, DIIR Additional Secretaries, Chemi Tseyang and Tsering Yangkey and Sonam Sangmo, Tibet Support Group Desk.

Tibet TV: What is the significance of observing the Thank you Year in 2018? What is the aspiration behind the campaign?

Dhardon Sharling: 2018 marks the beginning of exactly sixty years since His Holiness the Dalai Lama stepped on the sacred land of India and tens of thousands of Tibetans who followed him into exile. India has been a second home for Tibetan people and provided profound support for the Tibetan freedom struggle. In expression of our gratitude, marking the 60th year with the Thank You India 2018.

With that as the foundation of our campaign, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the Government and People of India through the yearlong Thank you India events.

Tibet TV: The Thank you India 2018 campaign is represented with the silver emblem of the dharmachakra. What is its symbolic meaning?

Sonam Dagpo: The Dharmachakra signifies Wheel of Universal Truth’ and is celebrated as an important symbol of ancient Indian tradition, including Buddhism. The churning of the wheel symbolises invocation of human values of peace, non-violence, compassion, mindfulness and well-being in India and in the world.

Tibet TV: Can you introduce the calendar of events of Thank you India 2018.

Dhardon Sharling: The yearlong Thank you India events will be organised and participated by individuals, groups and all sectors of the Tibetan community. Starting from March 17, we will be observing a series of events both on ground and in virtual space.

From 17 – 31 March 2018, 60 Indian friends will begin a peace march from Chuthangmo/ Khenzimani in Arunachal Pradesh and will culminate in the marches arriving in Delhi on March 31 to symbolize 60 years since His Holiness stepped on the Indian soil. The event is being organised by India Core Group Tibet supporters.

31 March 2018: His Holiness the Dalai Lama will lead an interfaith prayer meeting of religious leaders at Rajghat, New Delhi. 113 Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns will participate to symbolically represent the number of years His Holiness has promised to live.

1 April 2018: Thank you India’ mega public event at Thyagaraj Stadium, New Delhi graced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Indian dignitaries.

2 – 4 April 2018: Three day ‘Thank you India Tibet Festival’ at India International Centre, New Delhi.

5 – 7 April 2018: Three day ‘Thank you India Little Tibet Festival,’ Delhi Haat by Tibetan Chamber of Commerce. This concludes the series of events to be held in Delhi.

Similar events will be held in Bangalore, Shimla and Tibet Support Groups and friends will be organising events throughout the year in 30 cities across India.

A ‘Pray for India’ interfaith prayer meeting, an initiative to feed the hungry, cover the cold, mass tree plantation drive, mass participation in India’s Yoga day, cleanliness drive, etc.

5 June 2018:Tibetans around India will drive cleanliness program to make India green on World Environment Day.

21 June 2018: On International Yoga Day, Tibetans schools will take part in Yoga Day events organized by the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India.

6 July 2018: On the occasion of the 83rd birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibetans across India will feed the hungry and the homeless.

2 October 2018: On the occasion of the observing of Swachh Bharat, an initiative of the Indian Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Tibetans in India will initiate a mass cleanliness drive.

10 December 2018: On the occasion of World Human Rights Day and the 29th anniversary of conferment of Nobel Peace Prize on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibetans across India will distribute blankets and warm clothes to the homeless.

Individuals and groups who will be participating in the events can post their photos with the hashtag #thankyouIndia2018

Sonam Dagpo: In 2009 marking 50th year in exile, Tibetans observed Thank you India campaign. This year, we want to make the expression in both words and practice. Therefore, in Tibetan settlement offices, schools, Tibetan buddhist monasteries and nunneries and hospitals and all the Tibetan establishments will be commemorating the Thank you India program through the year.

Tibetans are settled in about 11 states and Tibetans are also doing various business across cities in India. Tibetan communities in these various pockets will organise Thank you India events to thank the Indian government and people, both at local and central level.

Tibetans across the world will have Thank you program in their respective territory led by different representatives.

Tibet TV: India being patron to Tibetan cause, recently His Holiness the Dalai Lama have added fourth commitment of ‘Reviving Ancient Indian Knowledge of Nalanda Tradition in India’. What opinion do you have on this stance relating to Thank you India?

Dhardon Sharling: Yes, what you have said is absolutely correct. If we look at the recent engagements of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, his visits outside of India has decreased dramatically. Almost 90% of his visits were within India. For instance, His Holiness the Dalai Lama arrived at Gaggal airport yesterday after about 40 days of engagements in three different states of India namely Bihar, Karnataka and Maharashtra. His Holiness has also repeatedly expressed his fourth commitment to revive ancient Indian knowledge, and has dedicated the rest of his life to the fulfillment of this commitment.

In fact, the revival of ancient Indian knowledge is not just a commitment of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, it’s the commitment of the entire Tibetan people. India and Tibet share a historic bond based on Guru-Chela relationship. Moreover, the universal recognition of His Holiness the Dalai Lama is derived from the knowledge that has been passed down through centuries to Tibet from the ancient Nalanda University of India. His Holiness has also candidly confessed that his body has sustained on the nutrition of India’s food while his mind has been enriched with the knowledge of ancient India. So, it’s obvious that Tibetans feel strongly indebted to India.

Therefore, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, on his part, has consistently devoted himself to the revival of this ancient knowledge to repay this symbolic debt. The promotion of secular ethics and the successful revival of Tibetan Buddhism in India which is based on the Nalanda tradition are a part of this effort. So, Tibetans all over the country, in their own individual capacity will exert effort to thank India this year as part of the campaign. The revival of ancient Indian knowledge is also clearly documented in the concept note of the thank you India campaign to illustrate the fact that the source as well as the renaissance of this knowledge has taken place in India with the assistance of the Indian government and public.

Sonam Dagpo: Ancient Indian knowledge and culture are spread across Tibet, be it in the form of Tibetan script, Tibetan poetry or Tibetan monastic architecture. After the brutal occupation of Tibet by Communist Chinese forces in 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama along with other spiritual leaders of Tibetan Buddhism has come to India and revived the tradition from destruction. For this, we feel grateful to India and its government.

Moreover, the wealth present in the knowledge of ancient Nalanda University is beneficial to the entire sentient beings. This ancient Indian knowledge has direct benefits in the form understanding the mind, tackling destructive emotions and quantum physics. Therefore, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s commitment to revive this knowledge is of extreme importance and significance. Tibetans under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama has established numerous monasteries and cultural institutes such as the Central Institute of Tibetan Studies in Varanasi and efforts are also underway to translate Tibetan scriptures back into Indian languages from Tibetan. These efforts will be beneficial not just to India but to the whole world. This is an effort by the Tibetan people to share the treasure of ancient Indian knowledge that Tibetans have preserved for centuries with the whole world.

Tibet TV: Thank you very much both the Secretaries

Jointly transcribed by Tenzin Saldon and Tenzin Phende and edited by Jamphel Shonu

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