My take on Tibetan Youth and Society in 1990

Recently I had the opportunity to rummage through a box of some of my stuff that I had not touched for several years. In the box was a copy of August 1990 issue of March, the magazine of the Delhi Tibetan Youth Congress. It had carried an article of mine and, since I see its relevance still holds, I am posting it here, even though I can no longer be considered a part of the “young” generation. The article comes with the following note about me: “The author is a former student of Hans Raj College, Delhi University. Presently, he is a deputy secretary in the Office of Information & International Relations, Dharamsala.”

Tibetan Youth and Society

Bhuchung K. Tsering
(Magazine of the Delhi Tibetan Youth Congress)
August 1990

The monthly Tibetan Review carried in its September 1989 issue an article of mine on corruption in the Tibetan community in exile. In that article I have tried to analyze why, despite being a small community, such malpractices as embezzlement, misuse of public fund etc., seem to take place in the various offices under the Tibetan Government.

Since the article’s publication I have had quite a few reactions from both within the Tibetan as well as Indian and Western communities. Some praise me for having the ‘courage’ (I don’t know what they mean by that) to write such a piece. Others castigate me for having written it. In this article I would like to dwell on the latter (the adverse reaction) and attempt to show the importance of social awareness among the Tibetan youth.

Some of the adverse reactions have been conveyed to me directly while a few others have been heard from a third source. First, the reaction among the Tibetan community. Most of the young educated Tibetans appreciate the thrust of the article though some of them feel it would have been better if I had written it in a general way instead of pegging it on some scandals. A few others, mostly officials, feel a bit affected for having dwelt on such negative aspects of Tibetan officials. Among the older Tibetans, again some of them have heard about the article and appreciate it. A few others, I heard this from a colleague in McLeod Ganj, say, “that is the true colour of the Tibetan youths. They bring out the bad things in their own generation” or something to that effect.

From among the non-Tibetans, an Indian gentleman, who works for a Dharma centre, was cryptic in his remarks. After having confirmed from me that I had written that article, he said, “ I am glad it is not someone senior.” I don’t know what he meant by that. A French couple, who I know, appreciated the article and also talked to me at great length about the similarity in the situation even in the French bureaucracy. The French lady had worked in a French Embassy and so knew what goes on in such offices.

My reason for dwelling at some length on the above is to emphasize the importance of social awareness among the youth. We are termed the ‘future seeds’ of Tibet and so if we want a good harvest then we need to see that the seeds do not get rotten or spoilt by external factors. Currently, over 90 per cent of the officials of the Tibetan Government in exile are youths and so we have a special responsibility to see that we function properly.

The sad trend currently is that social awareness is somewhat on the decrease. The youngsters have become more businessminded. Already the Dharamsala Administration is experiencing a shortage of personnel to fill the vacancies in the various departments. Generally people don’t seem to care whether the Government is functioning or not. It is only when a controversy arises that we find voices of dissent from different quarters. If these voices are sincere, then I feel they ought to study the problems being faced by Dharamsala and see if they can assist in solving them. Only then can their criticism get some credibility.

It is easy for us to sit at a distance and point out the very many errors being committed by our Government. What we need to understand is that the people form the government and so each of us has a responsibility to contribute the proper functioning of our Government. To look at the issue from another angle, it is generally said within our community that ‘the Chinese ate Tibet while our Kudags were engrossed with Majong’. Whether this was true or not is for each of us to judge However, we should not give an opportunity for future generation to say that ‘the freedom struggle got lost during the 1980s on account of the lack of social awareness among the people then.’

Some of you may be confused by the contradiction in my argument. While on the one hand I emphasise the need for social awareness, on the other hand I denigrate people who point out the shortcomings of our Administration. To them I would like to make this clarification. I am not against those individuals who try to support the Government in whatever way possible to them and then make constructive criticism. I am against those individuals who have not even cared to see how the Government has been functioning so far, come from nowhere and start criticizing it. Social awareness with sincere motivation is one thing, which we all appreciate. It is this awareness, which I feel is lacking and needs to be cultivated.

So to all the young Tibetans, I have but this simple suggestion. Pay an interest to the working of the Tibetan Government. If possible go for a short visit to Dharamsala for that is where you will see for yourself. Understand the trials and tribulations that our Government is undergoing. Having done that you can start commenting on the performance. If you have the time, specially during your summer vacation, volunteer to work in an office in Dharamsala and see the view from inside. In this way you will not only develop an interest in the Tibetan struggle but will also be able to comment more constructively.

I would like to conclude with the following remarks I heard fro an Indian gentleman in New Delhi. We were discussing the current attitude of the young Tibetans. He said, “If the youth is lost, the cause is lost.”


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