India needs to better understand Tibet
I refer to your report captioned, “To Understand China, First Understand Tibet”, published on Monday, March 1, 2021 and attributed to Lobsang Sangay, Sikyong, CTA. The report is trenchant and educative and a timely reminder of the strategic importance of Tibet to India and Southeast Asia as a whole. That Mr Sangay was able to push through the Tibetan Policy and Support Act 2020 (TPSA 2020) is a landmark achievement and a significant milestone for Tibetans worldwide in many areas, but most importantly for the Dalai Lama succession issue and the environment.
The TPSA 2020 ensures, once and for all, that the succession of Tibetan Buddhist leaders including the succession of the Dalai Lama rests solely in the hands of Tibetan Buddhists and forbids interference from the occupying Chinese government.
Mr Sangay is also spot on when he says: “to understand China, first understand Tibet.” This lack of knowledge about Tibet, is an Achilles Heel for Indian policy makers. There is very poor or non-existent understanding of Tibet among the Indian ruling class, not to speak of the chattering classes. This extends to the media at large too. All the Indian think tanks and research seem to be focused only on Han China and the CCP, totally ignoring the largest area of what now constitutes the map of China-occupied Tibet. This is a dangerous loophole that stands out starkly against the multiple and serious clashes that the Indian and Chinese armies have had on the highly volatile India-Tibet borders recently. Therefore, it is the need of the hour to rectify this as soon as possible.
The Indian disinterest in Tibet as a nation distinct from Han China is a far cry from those early days of the Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA) in the 1940s and even earlier. The British who ruled India then seemed to understand far better than now the importance of building a “Tibet Wing” or a fifth column if you will.
They knew India needed a strong cohort of officers with a deep understanding of Tibet, its culture, language and people, to counter the Chinese threat of territorial expansion AND CULTURAL GENOCIDE.” To achieve this, they made the effort of recruiting Tibet experts in the frontier administrative service and intelligence services – officers like my father and uncle.
They were both Tibet experts who began their careers very young fresh out of college and junior college as official Tibetan Interpreters as they were fluent in Tibetan and English and proficient in Hindi, Nepali and Bengali. But it was the Tibetan aspect that was most important. Based on this expertise, among other things, they rose up the career ladder. Another uncle, a Mandarin and Tibetan expert who was in the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP), joined RAW.
These are just some examples of the great importance the British placed on “Domain Knowledge”, something that seems to have disappeared over the decades with officers with scant knowledge of or interest in Tibet and its culture and people, or even the border areas, being parachuted to these highly sensitive and strategic areas to administer them. Many see them merely as “hardship postings” that look good on their CVs.
Today, with the exception of the Ladakh Scouts and Ladakhi ITBP officers, almost none of the others know a word of Tibetan. In contrast, China’s CCP has many experts on Tibet and even on India’s border areas. After all, the CCP are the world’s experts in infiltration and stealth warfare.
I hope your report on Mr Sangay’s advice will be heeded by India’s leaders. To ignore it is to imperil the nation.
Shobha Tsering Bhalla
Founder & Managing Director
India Se Media Pte Ltd
Congress Party should have its new President
Recently there was a news in The Shillong Times that the Congress Party wants a new President in Meghalaya. There was also an offer to Mr. Charles Pyngrope to head the Congress Party in Meghalaya. The party functionaries and workers were of the view that Charles Pyngrope would be the best choice to be the President of the Party in place of out-going President Celestine Lyngdoh. Charles Pyngrope has the qualities as a man of action and in words, who has helped all irrespective of party affiliations especially the poor not only in his Nongthymmai Constituency but in the whole State of Meghalaya.
Insofar as the Indian National Congress (INC) in India is concerned, I wonder why the Party has not thought of leaders with sterling qualities such as A.K. Anthony, Anand Sharma, Sachin Pilot, Kapil Sibal, Shashi Tharoor, etc. to head the Party. As we all know, Sonia Gandhi, the present President is not capable of leading the Party now. So too Rahul Gandhi because the people at large don’t accept him as a leader. Moreover, majority of Indians, especially the thinkers are averse to dynastic rule. Others with greater merit should be given a chance to take up the post of President. The Congress High Command and the Congress Working Committee should think over this suggestion and focus on the right man to lead the Party. If the INC gets the right person as President the states too will choose a person with qualities. Only then will the Congress come back to power. As a Party, the Congress has always promoted secularism, free speech and all round development, especially of the tribal people.
As a Party the Congress is not bad but it is the workers and representatives who made it bad due to their corruption and non-delivery for many years. Hence the people discarded the party due to their wrongdoings. Meghalaya Assembly will be electing its MLAs within a period of two and half years from now. Therefore it is time for the Congress Party to unanimously agree on the person to lead the Party. Charles Pyngrope is the right person and has all the qualities to be the Congress President of Meghalaya. He was the ex-Speaker of Meghalaya Assembly and the people know him very well. If the Party elects him unanimously it will once again return to power in Meghalaya. Will the Congress Party take this suggestion and wake up?
Isaias R. Dkhar
KHADC a fisherman’s pond
The KHADC is supposed to take up a number of critical subjects listed in its mandate. These are supposed to serve the larger interests of the local communities that voted the MDCs. The role of the Councils is to frame and enact laws related to culture and tradition and the conservation of natural resources and also to implement them. Unfortunately, with the passage of time the KHADC has become toothless because of the leadership vacuum. Now the issue of fishes becoming smaller and ‘thinner’ in the KHADC run fish ponds as reported in the news in spite of spending close to Rs 18 lakhs and receiving a meagre income of Rs 9500 shows complete failure of the scheme. Even after further expansion of the programme and enhancing the financing to tune of Rs 25 lakh and putting in about 80 kilos of fingerlings, we still don’t see any outcomes.
Either those manning the fish ponds have sold the good fish or the public representatives have themselves eaten up all the fattened ones and left the shriveled ones to swim in the ponds. The KHADC has no technical expertise in pisci-culture except for an MDC who is a fish merchant himself. So when there is conflict of interests the results will accrue to the individual; not to the community.
Dominic Stadlin Wankhar