By "People's Group for Dr. Lobsang Sangay"
On 8 August 2011, Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay became the first democratically-elected political leader of the Tibetan people in their history. Grounded in his fundamental guiding principles of Unity, Innovation and Self-Reliance, the exile administration has achieved outstanding results in the political, economic, education and social spheres. Sangay has ushered in a new political awareness by successfully raising the Central Tibetan Administration’s (CTA) visibility and the status of Sikyong in global politics.
When His Holiness the Dalai Lama devolved his political and administrative powers to the elected leadership, a cloud of doubt and anxiety shrouded the hearts and minds of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. However, following the footsteps of former Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, and the dedication of his fellow Kalons and civil servants, Sangay has performed his responsibilities exceptionally well and achieved great progress in almost every field these last four years. Consequently, he has inspired confidence among Tibetans in the exile administration.
Following are Ten Outstanding Accomplishments achieved under his leadership:
ONE: Praise from His Holiness and Recognition from the Tibetan people
In his address at the swearing-in ceremony of Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, His Holiness the Dalai Lama stated that with the devolution of his political and administrative powers, one of His Holiness’s long-cherished aspirations was fulfilled. In March 2014, while inaugurating the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile’s new building, His Holiness expressed his confidence in the Sikyong’s administration, and stated that now everything should not be dependent on a single person. During a visit to Germany on 27 August 2014, His Holiness said that he had handed over all his political responsibilities to an outstanding young leader Lobsang Sangay. Similarly, on 23 March 2015, in his address at a conference to mark the legacy of the former Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes, His Holiness reiterated that the Sikyong has been fulfilling his responsibilities with full competence.
Although the devolution of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s political authority marked a time of great transformation and anxiety, Sikyong Lobsang Sangay successfully champions the cause of the Tibetan people. Under his leadership, there has been a blossoming of a high level of awareness about, and trust in the Central Tibetan Administration, especially among people inside Tibet. This is evident from the abundant songs, letters and prayers offered by Tibetans from all walks of life from Tibet. This outpouring of faith is largely due to His Holiness’ guidance and his kind introduction of the Sikyong at various internal and international platforms.
TWO: Creation of Awareness and Mobilization of International Support for the Critical Situation in Tibet
In light of the critical situation in Tibet as highlighted by ongoing self-immolation protests, Sikyong is leading a strong global campaign to raise awareness about the ground reality in Tibet by meeting, appealing to, and garnering support from world leaders and parliamentarians.
In four years, he has visited over twenty countries and discussed the urgency of the Tibet issue with influential global leaders, including ministers, speakers and parliamentarians, Nobel Laureates and Tibet Support Groups. Sangay has appeared in major international news media, such as CNN, BBC, The New York Times, Globe Mail, Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Economic Times and the Washington Post. In addition to articles on his work and life, they have published articles authored by the Sikyong. These have greatly contributed in generating discussions and gathering support for Tibet.
Due to Tibet’s critical situation, a Special Tibetan General Meeting and Tibet Support Groups meeting were organized in Dharamsala in 2012. This was followed by a major event jointly-initiated by the Kashag and the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile in Delhi. This year the Paris Rally for Tibet, which was attended by Sikyong, attracted over 7,000 supporters. Similar events were organized in Austria, Japan and Australia.
THREE: A Greater Level of Awareness and Support for the Middle-Way Approach
The Middle-Way Approach was democratically-adopted by the Central Tibetan Administration to resolve the Tibet issue under His Holiness the Dalai Lama. When the Sikyong took his oath of office, he pledged his commitment to this policy and to carry forward the works done during the administration of the former Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche. As soon as the Sikyong took over the reins of the administration, he created a think tank, the Tibet Policy Institute (TPI). The TPI, in close partnership with many reputed scholars and international think tanks, has organized conferences on the Middle-Way Approach, as well as many other issues related to Tibet.
In 2014, the Sikyong, his fellow Kalons as well as secretaries of the departments visited all Tibetan settlements, schools and monasteries to speak and to raise awareness on the Middle-Way Approach. In June 2014, the Middle-Way Approach Campaign was launched, during which His Holiness released the campaign documents and the video. The launch included the opening of a website, dissemination of an eight-minute video and various print materials on the Middle-Way Approach in Tibetan, English, Chinese languages. The campaign was covered in 30 major international news media. Latest addition is an hour long video in Tibetan language featuring head lamas of various sects, Bon tradition and former political prisoners from Tibet endorsing the Middle Way Approach. Today many major world leaders unequivocally praise and support the Middle-Way Approach in resolving the issue of Tibet.
FOUR: Efforts to Promote Sino-Tibetan Talks Through Various Means
Believing that the best way to resolve the Sino-Tibetan conflict is through dialogue, the current administration under the Sikyong increased the members of the Task Force on Sino-Tibetan Negotiation with Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche as its special adviser. Efforts were made with the special envoy, and presently, efforts are being made without a special envoy. Prof. Jin Wei of the Central Party School in Beijing has on various occasions underlined the need for Sino-Tibetan dialogue. Her comments have been published in various Chinese news websites. On 29 January 2015, the BBC aired the story about a former high-ranking Chinese official, Xiao Wunan, visiting Dharamsala to meet His Holiness and Tibetan leaders. Xiao commented on the changing scenario of the Sino-Tibetan situation.
On 25 August 2014, the Indian daily newspaper, The Hindu, quoted Wu Yingjie, the deputy party secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region, as saying that the Chinese government is already in talks with the people of the HH Dalai Lama. EU President Donald Tusk publicly urged the visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for China to restart meaningful dialogue on Tibet. Major global leaders, including the foreign ministries of the US and Europe, have issued statements and passed over seventeen resolutions in support of a Sino-Tibetan dialogue.
The Sikyong continues to reiterate that he attaches more importance to the substance than the process of the dialogue and that there should be dialogue between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and Chinese counterparts. Hence, there will likely be some progress in this field in the near future.
FIVE: Excellent Relations with Indian Leaders
The Government of India’s support is crucial to the Tibet issue, and the importance of the Tibetan Administration’s relationship with India can never be exaggerated. Since the Sikyong took office, his strong personal relationship with many Indian leaders has resulted in the successful implementation of several new innovative projects.
The official celebration of His Holiness’ 80th birthday this year was attended by two Union Ministers representing the Indian Government. The ministers visited Dharamsala – the first time in 55 years – to attend His Holiness’ birthday.
Similarly, the Sikyong’s appearance at the swearing-in ceremony of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signaled a powerful political message. The Sikyong has also personally met with chief ministers of many Indian states, including Karnataka, Orissa, Uttrakhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh to discuss and resolve a range of problems and challenges faced by local Tibetan communities. Furthermore, the formalization of the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014 by the Government of India, the renewal of RC for five years and invitations for the Sikyong to deliver lectures at various Indian universities show a high level of support for the incumbent Kashag under the leadership of Sikyong Lobsang Sangay.
At the request of the Sikyong, the road running from McLeod Gunj to Lower Dharamsala via the exile Tibetan headquarters at Gangchen Kyishong was renamed the Potala Road and is now being extensively renovated. Perhaps, this is an auspicious sign for His Holiness to return to the Potala Palace in Tibet one day.
SIX: Accomplishments in the Field of Education
The Sikyong has consistently said that education is the top priority for his administration. Significant investments include: initiatives to take over the administration of Tibetan schools from the CTSA; the distribution of an unprecedented amount of funds to fully implement the Basic Education Policy; the establishment of a special teacher training center to train holistic Tibetan teachers; visits to every Tibetan school and first-hand assessments of their situation; and organizing parent-teacher meetings to gain valuable feedbacks. All these initiatives have yielded outstanding results.
In 2010, the Department of Education provided scholarship of over nine million rupees [Ninety Lakhs] to 130 students. The Department today spends forty million [Four Crores] in scholarship awards to 600 students, including 300 scholarships to those pursuing specialized professional courses and special scholarships for poverty affected children. As a result, the number of students who attained distinction — scoring over 75% — in the 12th standard has increased from 127 in 2010 to over 321 in 2014. The same figure for 2015 was 443 students. There is a growing body of students securing over 95% to win the prestigious Sikyong Scholarship.
As a result in June 2015, while delivering introductory talks on Buddhism at TCV in upper Dharamsala, His Holiness said, “Despite years of deterioration in education, things are improving today. The staff of Education Department must continue to work hard.” Since there is no end to progress, the opportunity to further increase the standards of Tibetan education must be seized with both hands.
SEVEN: Two-fold Increase in the Administration’s Income
No works can be implemented without a sound financial base. For about fifteen years since 1999 the annual budget of the exile administration has been around one thousand million rupees. However, the annual budget for this year stands at two thousand million rupees. This increase shows that the CTA’s income has doubled. The exile administration used to receive US$ two million in aid from the United States towards welfare programs for Tibetans in India, Nepal and Bhutan. The amount of aid Tibetans receive from them today is about US$ seven million. The CTA also receives US$ one million in aid each from two western countries. These funds, along with the funding aids extended by various other countries, are extremely significant from a political point of view. These funds are now being invested in education, sustenance of settlements, promotion of political knowledge, promotion and preservation of Tibetan religion, culture and language, promotion of Tibetan businesses, including sweater sellers, salaries of Tibetan teachers, raise (recently) in pensions, renovation and expansion of CTA offices, upgrades in CTA office equipment, building of recreational facilities, etc.
Furthermore, after the US Office of Tibet was moved to Washington D.C., a new office building was purchased at US$ 2.7 million. The Office of Tibet in Japan also purchased a new building at US$ one million. These new innovative projects are possible because of the Administration’s healthy financial status. Since mobilization of funds also requires developing strong interpersonal relationships, the CTA must therefore take into consideration the importance of further improving the present Administration’s robust financial health.
EIGHT: Projects to Sustain Tibetan Settlements
The Sikyong has time and again reiterated that in order to ensure the long-term sustenance of Tibetan settlements, we must sustain the ownership of settlement land. The Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014 formalized by the Government of India, which will soon be implemented by the states, has already opened a way to legalize Tibetan ownership of settlement land, including those grouped under scattered communities. Provision of loans to those who undertake both organic or modern agriculture methods, the Sikyong Entrepreneur of the Year Award and low-interest loans to young new entrepreneurs are provided to ensure economic freedom and the long-term sustenance of Tibetan settlements.
The fear of eviction that once prevailed over the residents of the Tibetan colony at Majnu-Ka-Tilla, Delhi, has now been resolved. Similar problems faced by around 210 families in Dharamshala, along with many families in Shimla and Rewalsar or Tso-pema were likewise successfully resolved. The state government of Himachal Pradesh has already formulated a new policy based on the Government of India’s Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014.
Over the last four years, Sikyong visited every Tibetan school and settlement and assessed at first-hand the actual situation on the ground, especially in the far-flung settlements with acute problems as in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.
In order to build a lasting relation between Tibetans residing outside India, Nepal and Bhutan and Tibetans in the West, the current administration has introduced Sister Shichak project. Provisions were also made for Tibetan professionals and scholars around the world to serve as volunteers in the CTA under Tibet Corps. Concrete measures were taken to simplify the process of making corrections in the Green Book. The Tibet Online TV and website of the CTA has been completely overhauled in order to enable Tibetans across the world to be better acquainted with the policies and works of the CTA. Today, a Tibetan residing in any part of the world can remain connected to and actively involved in the works initiated by the CTA. This new development has benefitted the Tibetan peoples, both individually and collectively. This is also politically very significant.
Public health constitutes a major factor in the overall development of a community. The Tibetan Medicare System has spent significant funds providing proper medical care to those in need of urgent medical attention, particularly the poor and the vulnerable. There are over 21,000 Tibetans who have enrolled in the Medicare System. The number of enrollment is expected to rise up to 50,000 in the next five years, hence covering not only the poor but a significant portion of middle-income families as well.
The current Administration has already announced new welfare schemes for all families with more than three children. Other health programs like those promoting mother and child health, prevention of communicable diseases and drug addiction rehabilitation programs were also carried out extensively. The number of doctors serving in Tibetan hospitals has increased from seven in 2012 to sixteen at present. There are also over 100 nurses presently serving in Tibetan hospitals. In 2014 Sikyong successfully obtained over US$ three million dollars in aid for the Department of Health, funding a variety of health projects.
NINE: Fresh Policy for Proper Rehabilitation of New Refugees
A large number of new Tibetan refugees have been successfully rehabilitated in major Tibetan settlements today. A new land was purchased in Bir/Chauntra to rehabilitate 73 families of recent refugees from Tibet. Similar initiatives to rehabilitate new refugees are also being implemented in Bylakuppe and Mundgod in the South. The monthly stipend for former Tibetan political prisoners (or their immediate relatives) was doubled and new projects are initiated to build residential quarters for them.
Similarly, a large number of families of former Tibetan political prisoners have been successfully rehabilitated in Australia. The number of years that a recent refugee from Tibet can study at the Sherab Gatsel Lobling School has been increased from five to eight years. The school today offers a number of vocational training programs such as tailoring and computer education. At least four students have successfully completed the All India Senior Secondary School Examination and provided scholarships to attend colleges. Ten students, expected to complete their class 12th exam next year, will be provided scholarship to pursue college.
As a result of a new policy, students who are unable to be in monasteries or study in Bir or Suja due to health issues are being offered alternate opportunities to continue their studies. In brief, the scale and scope of welfare programs for a comprehensive rehabilitation of recent Tibetan refugees has seen a tremendous improvement in the last four years.
TEN: Personal Security of His Holiness and Religious and Cultural Projects
The personal security of His Holiness is of paramount importance to the current administration under the Sikyong. In close association with the Government of India, the security detail of His Holiness was upgraded both in terms of personnel and high-tech equipment. Given the nature of works undertaken by the Department of Security, most of their major endeavors cannot be discussed in the public domain. The current administration has strongly dealt with the handful of Dhogyal followers who disrupt events and protest against His Holiness during his foreign visits.
The current 14th Kashag has dedicated 2014 as the Year of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and organized various events to express deep gratitude toward His Holiness. Major conferences of all traditions of Tibetan Buddhism were held. Tibetans nuns today can receive the Geshema degree. In addition, large-scale prayers and rituals for the long life of His Holiness were organized. Projects promoting scholarships and the specialization in major Buddhist texts were introduced. The traditional Tibetan performing arts, including the regional opera associations were promoted and supported with additional resources. The Tibetan people inside Tibet as well as those around the world were ecstatic with joy when His Holiness restated that he would live over 100 years during the grand official celebration of his 80th birthday. In fact, His Holiness asked Tibetans to begin preparing for the celebration of his 90th birthday.
In brief, despite the fact that the Tibetan administration is based in exile and has to depend on others, Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay, his fellow Kalons and civil servants, has accomplished a great deal in the last four years. There is much more he can deliver in the coming years. In fact, the next five years will reveal the rewards of his far-sighted policies. A continuation of a consistent and stable social and political environment will ensure the achievement of the core aspirations of the Tibetan people and to serve the fundamental cause of Tibet. The need of the hour, therefore, is for Dr. Lobsang Sangay to continue to serve as Sikyong for a second term.
Thus, on behalf of the Tibetan people inside and outside Tibet, the People’s Group for Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay, urge him to serve as Sikyong. The Group requests the Tibetan people across the globe to re-elect Dr. Lobsang Sangay, outstanding leader, eminent scholar, and dedicated Tibetan.Author's Note: The facts cited above have been compiled from various websites, including the official website of the Central Tibetan Administration, Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Phayul news portal, and Tibetan newspapers, radio news services and major international news media.