by Jamphel Shunu
“The dream of returning to Tibet is a dream that unites us all”
Ever since I was a child in a Tibetan school in south India, I was taught that our country is Tibet and that we should be proud of being a Tibetan. And I have grown up duly, dwelling in the awesome feeling of being a Tibetan.
But as I grew up, I felt the dream of returning to the promised land, from where my parents came, kept getting farther and farther because as I see it, the Tibetan movement, as vibrant and widespread as it may be around the world at the moment, thrives solely on the support of others/foreigners, which also is based on one main fulcrum: His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
I believe for a movement to succeed, the strength of the movement should be reflected in its ability to support itself and survive, not in its ability to survive with the support of others.
The global Tibetan movement led by the Central Tibetan Administration works to raise the various issues facing Tibet today particularly Tibetan Culture and Religion, Education, Human Rights and Environment, through a middle way approach which is based on truth, justice and non-violence. Other than these issues, one of the main goal of the Central Tibetan Administration is the resettlement of these Tibetan exiles and unite their collective resource to spearhead the movement for the restoration of Tibetan freedom.
Over the past 51 years, the Central Tibetan Administration has been highly successful in creating an ersatz Tibetan world in exile, catering to the welfare of more than 129,000 Tibetan exiles, a major chunk of which is scattered across 55 different Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal and Bhutan. It also has seven major departments and 11 Offices of Tibet across the world working strenuously with leaders, thinkers and Tibet support groups.
The financial resource on which the Central Tibetan Administration stands, is just a shallow pool of funds collected through donations, govt aids and the Tibetan voluntary fund.
The Tibetan Voluntary fund, is an annual “voluntary contribution” from the Tibetans in exile, introduced by the Central Tibetan Administration on August 1, 1972. The aims and objective of this fund is to create a firm and stable administration to look after the present and future well being of the Tibetan people. The annual contribution is recorded in a document, also called the “Green Book”.
As of 2011, the annual rate is 58 rupees for an adult Tibetan in India, Nepal and Bhutan whereas it is 98$ for an employed Tibetan and 46$ for an unemployed Tibetan residing abroad.
The Green book is also described as the passport of the exiled Tibetans to claim their rights from the Central Tibetan Administration. And rightfully so, for any Tibetan to avail their legitimate rights like scholarships or to get employment in Tibetan civil services or any other Tibetan organisation or schools, the green book is the basis on which your legitimacy as a Tibetan exile is examined.
Moreover, Tibet.net, the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration says that, in the future, the Green Book “will become a base to claim Tibetan citizenship”.
Hence, the Tibetan Voluntary Fund or “the Green Book” is not only an important official document to avail our rights, it is also the solution to create a robust, stable and self-sufficient administration for the continuance of its works towards the fulfillment of the Tibetan dream, in line with the present Kashag’s principle of Unity, Innovation and Self-determination.
But most of us Tibetans fail to pay our contributions diligently, thereby shooting ourselves on the foot unintentionally. Its not that we lack patriotism or nationalistic feelings. We all have this burning desire to do something and contribute to the Tibetan movement but we are so caught up in the cob webs of our own creation, unable to breakaway from the shackles of work, family, relationships, heartbreaks etc.
So its high time we use our collective will, tighten the belt of our resolve and pay our annual green book dues willingly without fail for the smooth flourish of our Tibetan movement and for the sustenance of the Tibetan dream. I think its the least we could do, if we don’t want to get stuck in a land where we don’t belong and in a place which we don’t call home for the rest of forever.
The Tibetan Voluntary Fund, small as it is in amount, is the fuel that keeps the spirit of the Tibetan struggle burning. I believe it is the spark at the top of the Tibetan incense which will eventually light up China’s dynamite, shaking the very foundations of the PRC in the not so distant future.
The writer works at the Department of Information and International Relations.
(The views expressed here are that of the author and shall not be regarded as views and policies of Central Tibetan Administration.)