1. We are assembled here today in the spirit of peace. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is not here, as he should have been and we feel cheated. But his Divine presence can be felt and is always there.
  2. From the beginning of time, human desire, aspiration and struggle has been for freedom.
  3. Ceaselessly, man, and when I say man, it connoted men and women, have fought against oppression, suppression and aggression, bullying and intimidation. In the process they have, millions of people the world over, laid down their lives, embracing death rather than live in bondage, slavery, shame and fear.
  4. There is nothing more degrading for humans than to live in fear.
  5. Perhaps the greatest challenge before us today is to build a world devoid of fear.
  6. The awakenings of the primitive man to his rights, basic and fundamental. The Rights of Man. From early ages to the 18th century, celebrated work of Thomas Paine expounding ‘The Rights of Man’.
  7. To the bold and daring statement in the court of the British Judge, conducting the trial of Bal Gangadhar Tilak in India, in the twentieth century, charged for inciting his countrymen to rise against the British crown: – “Swaraj Mera Janam Sidh Adhikar Hai”. Freedom in my birth right. Self-rule is my birth right.
  8. To the words of India’s Mahatma Gandhi in a trial Court of a British Judge in 1922, charged with sedition: – “Nonviolence is the first article of my faith. It is also the last article of my creed. But I have to make a choice. Either to submit to a system which I consider has done an irreparable harm to my country or to challenge the system.
  9. And Ladies and Gentleman, he did not, Mahatma Gandhi DID NOT Submit to a system that had done and irreparable harm to his country. In fact he did finally challenge it, so much so that it shook the very foundation of the British Empire, ultimately compelling them to grant India independence.
  10. And neither did he give up his faith in non-violence.
  11. Fitted into that mould of the Mahatma that was Gandhi, carrying forward the teachings of Prince Sidhartha, that was Gautam The Buddha, epitomizing compassion, tolerance, understanding, humility and wisdom we have, Ladies and Gentlemen, the great sage of our times, the Noble Laureate, the Apostle of Peace, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
  12. India, the State of Himachal Pradesh and Dharamsala from where I come, are indeed blessed that His Holiness chose to take residence and live here.
  13. Barely a year from now in 2008 China will be hosting the Olympic Games at Beijing.
  14. Barely two years from now in 2009, it will be 5 years since the Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet.
  15. Do we rejoice for 2008 or do we grieve for 1959.
  16. 1959 and the subsequent years have been for Tibet and the people of Tibet, in the words of Charles Dickens: (with due apologies to him for partially playing with his words) ‘not the best of times but the worst of times. Not the Spring of Hope, but the winter of Despair.
  17. From this Forum from which I am indeed privileged to address this august gathering of men and women of substance, of quality and caliber, intellect and status, wisdom and vision, international renown and fame, may I take the liberty of making an impassioned appeal to all the freedom loving people of the world: – “Do not allow the flame of Hope in the heart of the people of Tibet, to flicker and die.”
  18. From this forum from which I am privileged to speak, I appeal to all the freedom loving people of the world ” Do not abandon the people of Tibet and the cause of Tibet.”
  19. It is not just a question of genocide and violation of human rights in Tibet.
  20. It is not just a question of cruelty, persecution, oppression, torture, degradation and affront to the people of Tibet.
  21. It is not just a question of dumping of nuclear waste in Tibet.
  22. It is not just a question of ethnic cleansing in Tibet.
  23. It is not just a question of blatant exploitation of the oil & gas resources and rich raw material of Tibet.
  24. It is not just a question of causing environmental and ecological degradation of Tibet.
  25. The question is our own silence.
  26. In the world of Artur Schopenhauer, ” For if we are silent who will speak.”
  27. The tragedy of Tibet is not what is happening to the people of Tibet or happening inside Tibet but what is not happening outside Tibet, in the outside world, in the world that you and I are living in. The free world.
  28. It is this, our Frozen Silence that is responsible for the unabated miseries and the suffering of millions of Tibetans both inside their country and elsewhere.
  29. It is our apathy and casual concern that has prolonged the agony of a simple, devout and peace loving people.
  30. It is more our attempt to seem to be identifying with the cause of Tibet and His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, then to be shedding our passive postures and organizing the collective force of countries and nations, wedded to the cause of liberty, equality and justice, to prevail upon china to “render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar’s, and unto Christ, that which is Christ’s.”
  31. In India, Rama, The God-Incarnate of Hindu mythology, even though a King, suffered exile for 14 long years but ultimately triumphed.
  32. Jesus too carried the cross and he was the Son of God, and he too triumphed.
  33. And the Lord Buddha whose Philosophy and teachings have shown to the world the path of Nirvana or Salvation and in whose image we see The Dalai Lama underwent innumerable trials and tribulations, until be finally became the Buddha, The Enlightened one, and he too triumphed. The Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet too shall triumph.
  34. We are gathered here, this day to resolve to not let His Holiness the Dalai Lama walk alone or forsake the people of Tibet. We, who turn to The Dalai Lama to find solutions to our own problems and life’s complications and seek comfort and solace in his words and teaching, must first resolve to collectively support the Dalai Lama and his people to achieve their mission. An honorable settlement of the Tibetan issue and a return to their land as suggested by His Holiness. For the Tibetan people to be provided genuine regional autonomy and the preservation of their distinct culture.
  35. I recall at the height of the tension that existed between the USA and the then Soviet Union during the period of the Cold War, in the early sixties, where President John F. Kennedy on being advised not to enter into any kind of dialogue with the Soviets, and said ‘Let us not fear to negotiate. But let us not negotiate through fear.”
  36. And Martin Luther King. Leading the movement for Civil Rights in the USA, said: – “One of the most precious gifts of democracy, one of the greatest glories of democracy, is the right to protest for that which is right.” What we of the present generation have lost is our capacity to righteous indignation and anger against that which is universally recognized as being fundamentally wrong. That is why our silence.
  37. Do we have the moral courage to stand up for Tibet? In Martin Luther King’s words again, “Will we be the generation that will infect new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.”
  38. Or I ask will posterity & history label us as the generation that failed and betrayed Tibet?
  39. I draw comfort and hope from the words of the great philosopher Socrates who said, “Remember, no human condition is ever permanent. Then you will not be overjoyed in good fortune or too scornful in misfortune.” So this too shall pass.
  40. High up in the mountains, in the Himalayas, way and beyond, there is a small little country called Tibet. The roof of the world. That country was over run, defiled and its people deprived of a way of life, as well as their freedom. These people were peace loving and devote, happy in their pursuit of their religion and culture and in performance of their rituals, they posed no threat to any one and they harmed none. That picture of Tibet has been shattered. Piece by piece it will have to be put together again.
  41. Let world opinion persuade the hierarchy of China to open its doors for fruitful negotiations with envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, for an early settlement of the Tibetan issue on the lines suggested by him. Let the great civilizations of the world, breathless in the mad race to establish themselves and be counted as Global Economics Powers understand that their status as such shall be of no consequence if we abdicate our moral & spiritual responsibility towards the under privileged and less fortunate. There cannot no forsaking of our commitment to eternal human values.
  42. The Chinese Premier during his ‘ice-melting’ visit to Japan last month in his address to the Japanese Parliament, acknowledge Japanese regret for Tokyo’s invasion of China during the 2nd World War said, “to reflect on history is not to dwell on hard feelings but to remember and learn from the past in order to open a better future.”
  43. These are encouraging words, and positive indicators. There is need to enlarge the sphere of their application. I trust this forum will be instrumental in grasping this opportunity to create favorable conditions for the furtherance of the Tibetan cause. This is the challenge before the Tibet Support Groups and the free thinking people of the world.
  44. I must conclude now and conclude with the words of another great Indian Noble Laureate, Maharishi Rabindranath Tagore. He was conferred the Noble Prize for literature in 1913 and in later years became deeply involved with Gandhi’s struggle for India’s freedom. And he said, with regard to the brutal force that the British were using to suppress the Indians, “Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.” This was his innovation to God.
  45. And from his celebrated poem, Gitanjali. I recite his most famous verse: – “where the mind is without fear and the head is held high where knowledge is free where the world had not been broken up in to fragments by narrow domestic walls: where the words come out from the depth of truth where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection. Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit. Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action, into that Heaven of Freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”
  46. And so Ladies & Gentlemen, one may defeat armies subjugate and annihilate a people. One may conquer countries annexe territory, destroy civilizations and proclaim victory. But no one can ever vanquish the human spirit. Therefore the real victory is the Dalai Lama’s unwavering and abiding faith in his philosophy of tolerance and compassion and his belief that he and his people will return to Tibet. And is for us, you and I, Ladies and Gentlemen, to do the rest.

(Let there be peace)