Thanks for posting about the Elliot Sperling-Lobsang Sangay dissension, Jigme. I had actually intended to do a post on the Sperling article when it first came out, but, unfortunately, I got a bit wrapped up in non-blogging responsibilities. I found Lobsang Sangay’s response quite disappointing, both because I have a favorable impression of him (I lack any qualifications to assess his merits as a potential Kalön Thripa, but I like his bearing) and because I think there is a valid critique to be made of Sperling’s conclusions. And yet, Lobsang Sangay seems to respond only with invective. I don’t think it’s a fair criticism to simply accuse him of orientalism. His arguments make sense — it is very difficult to see how a free Tibet can be achieved through China’s legal system. The problem is that, when you lack any good options, simply demonstrating the faults of Option A doesn’t prove that Option B is going to work well. So, the question must be: if genuine autonomy is a very difficult goal, how is independence going to be achieved instead? Personally, I agree with Lobsang Sangay that there is a better chance of making gains by supporting the Middle Way plan (or going further, even, and simply asking that Tibet be given exactly the same status as Hong Kong), but, unfortunately, I don’t think that this particular contribution to the debate actually helps make that case.
Archive for August, 2009
The TibetTruth Blog (See here) has been running a campaign against the Lhasa Brewery Company Ltd. and it’s importer Lhasa Beer USA, labeling the product as:
…yet another form of cultural oppression waged against Tibetans by the occupying communist Chinese regime. Its mass production and ready availability is producing worrying levels of alcoholism among the Tibetan population.
I was shocked to hear about the statistics concerning the alcoholism problem in Tibet, outlined in the post “Alcohol-China’s Weapon of Choice,” on the TibetTruth Blog (See here).
According to a 2008 field-study, in part conducted by Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College in London, the extent of alcohol related disorders has reached 31.6% for males and nearly 10 % for women. While a 2003 investigation recorded that “Alcohol use disorder was the most serious problem in Tibet with a point prevalence of 41.89‰ and a lifetime prevalence of 43.6%“.A number of associated mental health problems were also noted amongst those Tibetans examined with neuroses reaching a level of 26.7% and over 20% instance of anxiety related disorders.
In my life there have been a few rare occasions when I wished I were younger. Such futile sentiments are usually followed by a mixture of nostalgia and regret. Sitting now in a coffee shop, watching the Tibetan pop vocal group Yudruk perform Milam, I am struck by these feelings once again. I wish I were experiencing this as a younger man. I wish I had had the chance to be cool and be Tibetan when I was a young college student in Beijing.
In those days, I struggled to express who I wanted to be. Looking back, I can see that I was searching for a way to be “cool” and be Tibetan at the same time. Of course, back then, the term cool didn’t exist, either in Tibetan or Chinese. And whatever it was, “coolness” was the last thing associated with Tibetans in the Chinese imagination. As a young Tibetan who grew up in the Chinese education system, we didn’t yet know how to live outside Chinese imagination.
According to this story in the North India Times, the Indian security services have recently been limiting the movements of Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje even more tightly than before. Since escaping into exile from China in 2000, the Karmapa has been living in Himachal Pradesh at a Gelugpa monastery not far from Dharamsala. All along, the Indian government has kept an unusually close eye on him: he is constantly guarded by government security personnel, he travels in India only with permission, and he has not been allowed to leave India at all except for a brief visit to the United States in 2008. Now, according to the news story, the restrictions have been tightened further: his visits to Dharamsala are limited and he is largely prohibited from leaving Sidhbari, the town where he resides. Continue reading ‘What is India’s Karmapa policy?’