Illusory Rangzen: Dangerous Veer
If there is anyone who can deliver either the Middle-Way or the Rangzen through dialogue or nonviolence to Tibetans, it is H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama. If he sees that the Middle-Way is the only realistic and sustainable solution for Tibet then it is.
The 6 Amigos and few disillusioned Tibetan NGOs are steering our younger generations to Rangzen for Tibet. They failed, so far, to illuminate us on what type of Rangzen and how?
Tibet’s geographical location (land-locked), our chosen path of nonviolence, economic and territorial sustainability which is tied to geography of Tibet and military power of our invader dictate upon us a unique solution, Middle-Way, for Tibet. A good Middle-Way is far better than a limited and a faltering Rangzen for Tibet.
Bhutan and Nepal enjoys Rangzen but they are not as independent as the US or France. Bhutan and Nepal depend heavily on India for their sustainability and more so militarily; not of their free choice, rather they are helpless because they are Land-locked nations. Both these nations are, like Tibet, bordered by land instead of ocean. They can import small arms from any terrain on foot but heavy artilleries must travel by road as they have no seaports. These two nations will come to their knees in a matter of days if India cuts supply of gas (petrol), medicines, cotton and food to them. Bhutan or Nepal will not be able to fend off India or China by themselves if one of them chooses to occupy it.
Another limited Rangzen example is Canada. Canada is not at Rangzen to wage a war of its own. It must seek consent of England first. Canada’s Governor General, who is the head of our Military, is the representative of the Queen of England.
Rangzen, therefore, has many dimensions and the key is latitude and sustainability. Rangzen for Tibet, if not rhetoric, must have a framework to work upon, a way or means to achieve it and a credible leader.
A Good Middle-Way
The Quebec province, a territory within Canada, enjoys its unique art, culture and language (French). Quebec territory elects 125 Members of National Assembly. It has its parliament building in Quebec City. Governor for Quebec represents “ the Queen of Canada”. What is Canada to England is Quebec to Canada. Ref: http://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/travaux-parlementaires/assemblee-nationale/40-1/index.html.
Civil law in Quebec is regulated by French heritage. Public and Criminal laws are implemented according to Canadian Common law.
Canada is bilingual to accommodate Quebec. Billboards in Quebec are in French. Education system, public security (police force) and Health Insurance comes under Provincial control. Religion is a personal choice, so state has no control.
Quebec collects 9 percent of every sales tax out of the 14 and only 5 percent goes to Federal. On the other hand, as a comparison, within the Ontario Province only 3 percent of the sales tax remains in Ontario and the rest (11 percent) goes to the Federal. Federal decides overall tax revenue such as 14 or 15 or whatever number it deems fit for Canada as a nation. USA is the only country in the world where its citizens own the mineral rights (oil, gold, diamond etc. mines) beneath their land (surface rights). In Canada mineral rights belong to the provinces. In India mineral rights belong to the federal government. Therefore Quebec is autonomous as far as civil law, policy on religion, mining, revenues (economy), security, health and education are concerned except military.
Another example is Hong Kong under the Chinese existing law.
Tibet, historically speaking, has gone through many ups and downs. There were times when Tibet was a formidable force and we harassed our neighbors for territories and colonization. Other times we were the victims; dealt with failure and chaos. However, three key factors have played a pivotal role in preventing Tibet from disintegrating into its neighbors -except for Ladakh, Sikkim and Bhutan which were formed due to a lack of strong central power in Tibet. One was the Dalai Lamas, the second was Buddhism and third was Tibetan Language. People of all the three provinces of Tibet, U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo, invariably gave reverence to the Dalai Lamas. All the three provinces hang on to Buddhism and all three provinces use Tibetan language as standard written form and speak Tibetan with few variations.
Almost all Nalanda Buddhist Canon were translated into Tibetan language by 700AD. Therefore the only way to study Buddhism was by learning the Tibetan language. Mongol and Ladakh Buddhists came to Tibet to study Buddhism. Even today, for any serious Buddhist scholars, monk or lay, knowledge of Tibetan language is a prerequisite.
Despite China’s military might and economic power, today, Tibetans enjoy the limelight because of H.H. the 14th Dalai lama and Tibetan Buddhism.
Tibetan NGOs: misuse
Tibetan “political stand” and views are collective decisions (plurality or majority) finalized and voted for in Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPIE). That is the proper institution for debates. TPIE directs its outcome through Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) for implementation. Fortunately or unfortunately we embarked on a unique struggle and gave birth to NGO’s like TYC, TWA, SFT, GuChuSum etc. to magnify our strength as one voice. They call it synergy- the whole is greater than the sum of its part.
Today, however, our NGO’s are draining our man-power and other resources in the name of “rights” without any respect to sentiments of other people. For instance, Jamyang Norbu, who is invited often by these NGO’s wrote, “The Dalai-Lama's presence in Tibetan political life is somewhat like the giant Banyan tree, whose shade is pleasant but under which little grows.” This article can be read from this link http://www.alternative-tibetaine.org/articles/0106/EN_jnorbu17.htm.
What is Mr. Jamyang is trying to achieve here? Is he furthering his view or putting a wedge between the Tibetans and H.H. the Dalai Lama. Any opinion, idea or view, if relevant and sound, must stand on its own. That is Buddhist logic. Disparaging someone will not prop up his weak or irrelevant opinions.
Domino effect: Political repercussion
Today, our regional NGOs are global. They are in India, Europe and in North America. This is a mixed blessing. Our NGOs are, now, more susceptible to infiltration. There are no background checks for its members for security. This poses a threat to the body of Tibetan NGOs themselves and CTA/TPIE. There are unconfirmed reports that these NGOs are infiltrated with undesirable individuals who have means, influence and motives to hijack or disrupt our peaceful public display (protest) that has been a hallmark of our struggle. Any disruption to regional security (host country) may have a domino effect on CTA or TPIE’s existence. Remember that the CTA and TPIE are in a foreign land! That is the reality of our situation and weakness.
Safeguard: TPIE and CTA
CTA and TPIE must be protected (sustained, avoid closure) at all cost- with or without Tibetan NGOs. Therefore CTA has every right to recognize or derecognize any Tibetan NGOs that can or cannot represent Tibetan voices. From time to time CTA must renew the list of Tibetan NGOs to safeguard the integrity CTA or TPIE. For its own (CTA/TPEI) protection CTA must issue a memo to all Tibetan NGOs to carry out background checks for security before it recruits its members, especially the executive and program or event supervisors.
Such a direction given by TPIE/CTA in advance, in writing, will deflect some embarrassment in the future if such unthinkable and unforeseen incident takes place somewhere in the world. TPIE has the right to shift the blame on to regional organizations if such directions are already in place.
Land-locked Country: Tibet
Tibet is a land-locked country which means Tibet has no shared border to oceans. Tibet shares its border by land-mass with China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mighty Himalaya and Taklamakan desert. Therefore whatever we import, it must travel by land which will increase the cost price of imported goods by a huge margin and poor citizens of Tibet may not be able to afford it.
On the other hand those countries which have seaports have huge advantage over transport cost. Size of ocean vessel is restricted by two Canals in the world- Panama and Suez. Therefore modern ships are built humongous for economic reason. These giant ships can haul so many goods that the cost of transport from China to US seaport, for example, would increase the cost price by only 5 to 10 cents. Such a low costs of transport is impossible via land due to cost of oil and economies of scale (quantity) of haulage.
Unfortunately much of Tibet’s land is cold, arid, dry and a substantial part is under permafrost. Therefore agriculture production is limited unless we embark on massive investment in green-houses and drip irrigation technology. Tibet will have to import food to feed its citizens.
Industry and Military Rangzen
How Tibet will defend its territory if aggression comes from China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, or Mongolia? From where and how will Tibet transport (import) weapons without the consent of India or China because they are the only two countries that have seaports. There is no international highway or freeway in India or China. Tibet cannot transport any goods including military arsenals without crossing one of its neighbors’ borders which surrounds us. Will our neighbor allow us to transport huge cache of weapons that will eventually be used against them?
Border protection entails remote sensing (satellites), air planes and boots on the ground (man) wherever environment permits. India has 1.3 million manned along the China and Pakistan land borders for protection. Tibet requires more, not less, military personals than India to man our huge land borders with China, Bhutan, Nepal and India. We don’t have enough population to take this challenge for any foreseeable future unless we recruit other nationals.
We need to import medicines, electricity, vehicles (trucks, Buses, cars, bikes), gas(petrol, fuel), industrial goods(transformers, heavy machines, tubes), raw materials(iron, copper), cottons and consumer goods such as TV, radio, phones, shoes, clothes, toys and foods to enjoy our life as normal people. Each of them must be transported via land to Tibet. Cost of transportation and its ripple effect will prohibit us to import goods from a single neighbor. Kham and Amdo may have to import from China and Lhasa regions from India.
Tibet, as I see it, may have to import 70 percent of consumer goods from its neighbors which will be a huge toll on national revenue. Since military is not included in the Middle-Way package deal we save a huge revenue. India spends almost 46 billion US dollars annually on defense and Nepal about 200 Millions.
Economic growth and Market
If Tibetans were to become, in the future, innovators like Steve Jobs, we need markets and must be able to curb transport (import and export) cost. Tibet has neither market nor seaport. We need Chinas’ market- consumers. This is the reason why U.S and other countries befriend China despite ideological differences. Market economy is synonymous to population. Compare 6 million Tibetans to 1.2 billion Chinese. We have practically no market compared to China. The Middle-Way offers this market automatically without asking.
Even if Tibet projects itself as a service industry (Tourism, Universities for Buddhism) we still need basic amenities and infrastructure such as road, hotels, communication, electricity, gas and safe drinking water. Unless we produce everything that we need within Tibet, given we have enough raw materials and know-how, we will have an import dependency economy. The word ‘everything’ here is relative. If we import Samosa, an Indian delicacy, we are importing a finished good. If we are importing flour and potato we are importing raw materials for Samosa. There is not a single country in the world, today, that is not dependent on import and export to some degree. However, for a land-locked nation like Tibet, import and export dependent economy is a curse. Export dependency is an issue if a nation has less market or consumers. Although dependency-ratio(an economic data), health insurance and pension policy influences market but not as much as population influences market. Tibet has only 6 million people. Eventually Tibet must export its produce and needs Chinas’ market for success.
European Union: Another Example
Why is European Union (EU), Eurotunnel and NAFTA etc. gaining momentum today? Eurotunnel was unthinkable, once, due to political enmity between France and Britain- historically speaking. Today it is a reality. Eurozone, a Union of 17 sovereign nations uses only ONE currency. Why? Economic reality and convenience dictates way of modern life. Each country has the same sense of pride and nationalism as we have but they gave up their own currency for Euro to access common market. Economic convenience is a new reality.
Middle-Way answers all the short-comings of Rangzen and offers better alternatives to Rangzen of Nepal and Bhutan. They spend substantial amount of revenue on military arsenals which is impotent, to say the least. Such annual expenditure diverts scares resource which can be used for social programs but they are helpless.
We bask in the compassion and grace of the H.H. the Dalai Lama. For the last 60 years we have not faltered. Our parents have endured overwhelming hardships and have come thus far. Even after many decades we still have a functional CTA and TPIE in a foreign soil. By any measure Tibetans have done enviable job because we followed his vision.
Within next 60 years Tibetans will be reunited if we stay the course and follow H.H. the Dalai Lama.
Rangzen, at best, is akin to chasing a rainbow. It is colorful. One who promises it and those who chase it are childish.