Kasur Ngapo Ngawang Jigme and his Autobiography

The passing away of Kasur Ngapo Ngawang Jigme marks the disappearance from the scene of  one of the main personalities in modern Tibetan history.  As a member of the team led by the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for talks with Chinese leadership, I have had the opportunity to meet Kasur Ngapo when the team called on him in September 2002 in Beijing. We went to his residence where Kasur Ngapo and a daughter were there. The daughter served us tea. Even though he was in his nineties then, Kasur Ngapo had no problem in conversing with us in a clear manner.

If we were to choose the three most prominent Tibetan personalities in Tibet in the post-1959 period, Kasur Ngapo would be one of them.  The other two would be the previous Panchen Lama and Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal.  All three of them came in the same time in history but under different circumstances. Within the Tibetan society, at different times in history there have been different opinions about the three personalities.

The Panchen Lama has, however, made it abundantly clear at all times that he has been striving for the benefit of the Tibetan people. In particularly, his position, as spelled out in writing, includes his 70,000 character petition to the Chinese Government on the plight of the Tibetan people and his public talks given in the 1980s.  Bapa Phuntsok Wangyal has also made his position clear through the book, “A Tibetan Revolutionary” as well as through his petitions to the Chinese Government in recent times.

It seems Kasur Ngapo has been working on his autobiography although its status is not clear now.  Such an autobiography would be useful in enabling us to understand his views. More importantly, it would have an impact on how history will see Kasur Ngapo.

It could be that the reason for not hearing about his autobiography is because it is being screened by the Chinese Government.  If this is so, I would feel that it is not only morally just for an individual to be responsible for his autobiography but this is essential for the credibility of the book once it is published. If the authorities were to interfere in an individual’s autobiography it will not be beneficial to the authorities themselves in the long run.

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