Every Saturday as a part of its shoutout campaign, DIIR’s Social Media Desk will be profiling a civil servant of Central Tibetan Administration. This week we are pleased to profile Kalsang Lhundup.
Question: Could you briefly tell us about yourself?
Answer: My name is Kalsang Lhundup. I am Tibetan refugee who became orphan at a very tender age. My story began in the years following the Chinese invasion of Tibet, when His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan men and women were compelled to escape from their own home and country. Thousands of Tibetans like my parent escaped from Tibet not because they felt the danger to their life but saw a great threat to the very identity of Tibetan people.
Today, it is hard to come across a Tibetan family in exile that has not had at least one of their family member was imprisoned or killed or died due to the invasion of Tibet by Communist China. Moreover, thousands of Tibetan people have suffered unimaginable hardship during the ordeal of the difficult journey over the Himalayas. Many Tibetan people died on the way and likewise, many elderly people died during the first few years of refuge in India. As a result of that many infants became orphan, semi orphan and destitute.
My mother died at Tibet-Nepal border while we were on the run to India. My poor father without much of time to mourn the death of my mother he had to continue his journey to escape and finally he managed to cross the Himalayas by taking few belongings and me.
I became orphan when my father died in early 1960’s in India and I was then brought up in exile under the care of Tibetan Homes Foundation, Mussoorie from 1969 to 1980.
Today I am proud of being one among the educated Tibetans in exile and also fortunate to get the opportunity to serve my community in a small way for more than 30 years.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the hard work of Tibetan Homes Foundation’s staff, foster parents and teachers. I believe their hard work is not gone in vain and Tibetan Homes Foundation has produced hundreds of young educated Tibetan and many of them have now become a responsible person in our exile community.
My school certificate says – I was born on 1st of July 1960 in Zongka, Tibet to parents name recorded as S/O orphan. Many of my Classmates who are orphan do have the same date of birth with the same name title ‘son of orphan’.
I myself have no recollection when and where I was born. It was a tragic history of Tibet when thousands of Tibetans were forced to flee their homeland after the Chinese invasion. The fate of our land, our heritage and our culture were in the hand of the red army. I was born during the great escape of my parent with fellow Tibetans. My mother died when I was an infant and therefore, I don’t have any memory of her. In my later stage of life, my relatives say that I looked like my mother, which is the only consolation to me.
Question: Please explain your job description and how best does your work represent you or vice versa.
Answer: My first community service: In 1983 Tibetan Homes Foundation Mussoorie appointed me to help and assist the Headmaster of Homes School at Rajpur and at the same time, I was also deputed to look after the management of THF old peoples home at Rajpur. I served there for one year.
Then in 1984 – there was a job vacancy at the newly established Dekyiling Tibetan Colony at Shastradhara Road, Dehra Dun. This Colony was established for the resettlement of Tibetan Refugees who came from Bhutan and also Tibetans scattered in the District of Dehra Dun. I was asked to take the charge of assistant consignee for Catholic Relief Service project. This project included Food for Work, and Mother and Childcare project. My job was to distribute the CRS food, which included Bulger, oil and Soya flour for those CRS project holders of Tibetan settlements situated at Dehra Dun and Sirmour District. I also worked as an assistant to Office Secretary of Tibetan Welfare office, Dehradun till December 1990.
In January 1991 – I was selected as a permanent staff of CTA and was transferred to the Tibetan Welfare Office at Kusumpti, Shimla as office secretary. After working there for almost two years, I was then transferred to Department Home based in Dharamshala in December 1992 as the department’s accountant. At first, I was not sure whether I could do this new job because I didn’t have any experience in accountancy nor have I studied accountancy. But I managed somehow with the advice and guidance of our seniors. Our seniors at that time used to tell us that CTA staff should be well prepared for all kinds of office responsibilities.
So, I worked as Chief Accountant of Department of Home until February 1999 but I still to this day I cannot say with certainty if I have done a good job or not. However, during my seven years in the Department, I worked with the best of my capacity and in recognition of my services – my department recommended me as one of the candidates for the best civil servant award (Swiss Tibetan Award) among the staff cadre of Central Tibetan Administration for the year 1998-1999. Finally, I was selected as the recipient of 1998-1999 Swiss Tibetan Award.
After serving for almost eight years at the Department of Home, I was transferred to Taiwan in April 2000. I also took charge of account related works of Office of Tibet and Tibet Religious Foundation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based in Taipei, Taiwan. I worked at Office of Tibet Taiwan until February 2014. I was again transferred back to Head Office, Dharamsala to serve in Department of Information and International Relation. I am determined to serve CTA until my retirement.
Question: What inspired you to serve the Central Tibetan Administration?
Answer: With the kind grace of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration, I was brought up in an orphanage home. I was educated and nurtured to be a good Tibetan and was also encouraged constantly to serve my community. My teachers and foster parents inculcate this inspiration in me from my childhood.
Therefore, after completing my school education – I made up my mind and pledged to serve my community in exile and I am fortunate to get the chance to serve in the Central Tibetan Administration and this is the year is my 28th year in the Central Tibetan Administration.
Question: What does it mean for you to be a CTA Civil Servant?
Answer: The major part of my life is spent within the Tibetan Community and also as a civil servant in the Central Tibetan Administration. Today I am proud of being one among the educated Tibetans in exile and also fortunate to get an opportunity to serve the community in a small way for over 30 years.
Question: How best do you think you could make a difference to CTA?
Answer: In my opinion, if each staff committed to their responsibility with honesty, sincere attitude, determination and spirit, that would bring about significant results to our movement and bring fruition to the thoughts and vision of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration.
Question: Who is your role model and why?
Answer: As a civil servant, my role model would be the former CTA staff who had served the Central Tibetan Administration in those difficult periods and worked tirelessly to lay the foundation of CTA. I believe them to be my role models and I have learned many good things from them. I think we should remember their priceless contribution towards our community.
Question: What is your piece of advice for young Tibetans serving or wishing to serve at CTA?
Answer: The younger generation of Tibetans today are highly educated and qualified in their respective fields. Unlike the past during our time, today there are many opportunities for higher education. As a senior civil servant of CTA – I am proud to learn that today most of the young CTA staff are highly educated and I hope and pray that they make a difference to CTA through their education and dedication. My piece of advice or my humble request to young CTA staff is that you all are well educated but you need more willpower and determination to serve in the Central Tibetan Administration.