Tibet TV of Department of Information and International Relations interviewed President Dr Lobsang Sangay, Central Tibetan Administration on the occasion of the second anniversary of the 15th Kashag.
Following is the English transcript of Tibet TV’s interview with CTA President.
Tibet TV: Mr President, though we will be conducting interviews with all the Kalons, but could you briefly give us a general overview of Kashag’s initiatives and accomplishments in the past two years?
CTA President: The Kalons of the respective departments will be giving you a detail information on the workings of their own department in the last two years. Overall speaking, there has been no lapse in the past two years.
As per the wish and guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to fulfill the aspirations of the Tibetans in Tibet, I feel that in the tenure of the 14 and 15th Kashag we were fairly successful in doing so.
For instance, undertaken by the Department of Religion and Culture, the 2017 Kalachakra was held successfully. The annual program of introducing Buddhist teachings and also teaching in Language and grammar and Tibetan tradition to Tibetan youth at the Gyudmed Monastery in South of India is in continuation. Prayer services for the Long Life of His Holiness the Dalai Lama are being held accordingly.
The Home Department has been seeing out the implementation of the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy by the related State Governments. This policy was passed by the Central Government in 2014. The southern state of Karnataka and in the north Uttarakhand state has already implemented this policy. And recently Arunachal Pradesh state government has started implementing this policy. As of now, Ladakh and few others are yet to implement.
Improving facilities at the Old Age Homes, providing employment opportunities to the unemployed Tibetan youth and registration of Record of Tenancy Certificate in the respective settlements are some of the undertakings of the Department of Home.
The plan to set up a bank by the Department of Finance is underway. The department is also providing loans to the Tibetans in winter sweater selling business. A total of 100 Tibetan taxi drivers would receive six lakh as a loan for the period of three years.
The improvement and development in the education sector are known to all of us and the implementation of the education policy is to be continued. One of the biggest undertakings of the Department of Education was to oversee the transfer of the CTSA schools. By this month the transfer will be completed.
One of the sole endeavour of the Department of Security is overseeing the security details of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In this regard, the Indian government has also provided great support. Receiving the new arrivals from Tibet has been an important undertaking of the department.
Recently due to the kindness of Indian government, Department of Security was able to secure RC for 955 Tibetans without RC.
The Department of Health is currently working on a project known as Tibetan Medicare System. The participation in this medicare system has been increasing. The department is also working on projects related to prevention of diseases.
The trilingual official website of the CTA such as the bod.asia, tibet.net, xizang-zhiye and also tibettv are overseen by the Department of Information and International Relations. These sites have seen an increase in their viewership and readership.
Tibet TV: Mr President, could you tell us how and where the financial aid that CTA is receiving is allocated or used?
CTA President: These funds are for the advancement of the Tibetans in the settlements. Through the loan scheme, a loan of Rs 1 lakh to a thousand Tibetan sweater sellers was provided. Helping small businesses and providing loans to Tibetan taxi drivers is also underway. The amount of scholarship for Tibetan students was increased. The planning for building of football grounds, fitness centres is underway and such initiatives are taken in order to well situate the Tibetan communities in exile accordingly.
Tibet TV: One of the most important obligations is politics. Aside from the role of the president, you have also been taking the role and responsibility as the Kalon of DIIR. Therefore, where does the Tibetan issue stand in the global stage of international politics?
CTA President: The overall political standing is good. The support on the issue of Tibet from the Indian government as well as the US government has grown stronger.
Tibet TV: Last year, CTA organised a well known conference called the Five Fifty Forum. There is also the Five Fifty Youth Forum to be organised in the coming month. What projects, such as these, do you have for the future?
CTA President: His Holiness has always advised that we must hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. So in five years, we hope that genuine autonomy could be achieved. Last year in October we held the Five Fifty Forum. This meeting was to discuss and map out what could be done internationally to garner support for the Middle Way Approach and the Sino-Tibet dialogue and the meeting concluded with 91 recommendations. Of these, we will figure out which could be implementable by the Kashag. In 2014 and 2016, the former President of the United States, Mr Obama while acknowledging the Middle Way Approach, affirmed strong support for it.
Our plan is to create more awareness about the Middle Way Approach in the public, schools, colleges, Tibetan settlements and communities abroad.
Tibet TV: We are witnessing massive infrastructure and development in Gangchen Kyishong, what is the long term vision behind these projects?
CTA President: Dharamsala is the official seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration. The Five Fifty vision of CTA seeks to make Gangchen Kyishong into ‘Little Tibet’ by transforming the architectural designs of CTA offices into Tibetan designs. So when visitors travel from lower Dharamshala to Mcleod Ganj via the Potala Road, they will see the ‘Little Tibet.’
Under the Department of Information and International Relations, the new Tibet Museum project is underway. With this new Tibet Museum, we are hoping to sensitise visitors about Tibet’s past, the current situation inside Tibet and the life and achievements of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Tibet TV: What initiatives CTA is currently undertaking to engage with the Tibetan youth in diaspora?
CTA President: Tibetan people are settled in 40 countries across the world. We are successfully reaching out to them, particularly the youth through our official TV network, tri-lingual websites and social media handles. We have achieved a further milestone this year with the launch of CTA’s official trilingual news App tibet.Net. All these innovations are aimed at accomplishing the core objective to bring Tibet related news and information on an accessible digital platform and to consolidate the efforts of Central Tibetan Administration by engaging with the Tibetan diaspora. ‘
Also, the major events organised by CTA can now be streamed live from any part of the world through Facebook. For example, the Thank you India event held in March this year and the Kalachakra initiation at Bodh Gaya 2017 were aired live on our social media handles. Tibetans and devotees who were unable to attend the Kalachakra expressed deep elation for being able to receive the Kalachakra through Tibet TV live telecast.
In terms of engaging with Tibetans, members of Kashag during their official visits prioritises meeting with Tibetan communities and interacting with them personally.
Tibetan monastic institutions in various Tibetan communities are doing great work in educating the Tibetan youth on Tibetan language, culture and especially in religion. I congratulate and encourage them to carry on such initiatives.
Regarding the Weekend Tibetan Schools, the Department of Education is doing an excellent job in overseeing the publication of their textbooks and teaching methodology. In July this year, the Department of Education will be organising a workshop for students and teachers of Weekend Tibetan Schools in North America. Former members of TIPA will also come and train them in traditional dance and songs.
In August, we will be organising the Five Fifty Youth Forum at Dharamshala. The forum will bring together young Tibetans across the globe to converge at the headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration and more importantly to deliberate on how they can maximise their potential in strengthening the Tibetan freedom movement.
At CTA, Tibet Corps offers Tibetan professionals, university students, and retirees an opportunity and platform to serve the Tibetan community through voluntary service. Many of them expressed joy and satisfaction in being able to serve.
For now, we have 14 volunteers from India and abroad. We are receiving more and more youth every year. Through Tibet Corps program, we are able to bring our youth closer to the cause and towards CTA.
Tibet TV: What is your message for Tibetans in Tibet?
CTA President: The wishes of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the paramount objective of Central Tibetan Administration is to fulfill the aspirations of Tibetans brothers and sisters in Tibet. Members of the Kashag and Offices of Tibet across the world are mobilising efforts to bring awareness to the urgent situation in Tibet.
The Freedom House Report of 2016 to 2017 listed Tibet as the second least-free country in the world, after Syria. We are employing every platform to speak up for the deteriorating situations inside Tibet.
In protest of China’s repressive policies in Tibet, 152 Tibetans have self-immolated calling for the dignified return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and for freedom of Tibetan people. While the spirit of Tibetan brethren inside Tibet remains indomitable, the unity of Tibetans inside Tibet and those in exile is ever strong. We are united in our faith and devotion towards His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
We are working to see all our Tibetan brothers and sisters reunited in the land of Tibet. All our prayers and efforts are dedicated to fulfilling the aspiration of Tibetans inside Tibet and our daily engagements are directed towards achieving this goal.
To see through this goal, it has always been our attempt to call on the members of the respective parliament and speak to international media about the situation in Tibet during our official vista to foreign nations.
During my recent official visits to various countries, I was able to meet MPs and invite many of them to visit Dharamshala. Hence in past months, we were able to receive members of parliament from US, Sweden, Swiss, Australia, England and EU at Central Tibetan Administration. During their visit here, we apprised them of the situation in Tibet and urged them to support Tibetan movement.
-Contributed by Sikyong’s Communication Officer-