By Tsewang Namgyal
Thank you TPR for your editorial (Previewing the Policies of the Sangay Administration). I would like to share a thought related to financial viability. It would be prudent for our Finance Department to engage an experienced independent consultant like Wellspring Consulting (www.wellspringconsulting.net) to write a five year “business plan” for CTA. The focus should be to analyze our revenue and expenses to develop an action plan on how to leverage future changes (e.g. Tibetans moving to the west), create efficiency (e.g. use of technology) and reduce expenses (e.g. combining certain departments to create synergies).
The benefit of having an unemotional, experienced and independent consultant (although relatively expensive say $50,000 to $100,000 for 3-6 months) can be very effective to receive a more thoughtful and reliable action plan. Public opinions are also very useful as one of the resource but not the key driver especially on financial matters as it can be driven by populism (e.g. full of aspirations).
In the area of Tibetan public economic empowerment, I believe we need to change our policies and attitude. His Holiness has taken the courageous step to separate our religion from politics. This adjustment He realizes is critical to develop a modern Tibetan society. Similarly, I believe it is critical to free our economic policies.
Currently many of our economic policies are driven by our religious leaders, activists and environmentalists. Unless our entrepreneurs, business leaders and economists are in the forefront, it would prevent us from becoming economically sustainable society. Heads of most countries bring along their business leaders to open doors for them and are viewed with respect just by their existence. I think as a society we need to encourage people in the private sector to take a more leadership role and for those in the private sector should come out more forcefully.
There is no doubt that pure business considerations have led to environmental, social and political problems. However, it is also clear that commercial drive driven by the private sector has been a better engine to alleviate poverty than Communist or Buddhist philosophy. Profits have proved to be a great motivation to increase efficiency and hard work. However, I am mindful that if not based on ethics (like any system including Communism or Buddhism) this can be a big problem.
Personally, I consider myself a devout Buddhist. Like many of us it is the preservation of our precious Buddhist culture that motivates us to “fight” for Tibet. But studying our history it is clear that we need to change. For hundreds of years we had great patrons like the Manchus, Mongolians and Chinese. However, we remained economically very poor (therefore politically also weak). Today, we have many great patrons but we are still very dependent on subsidies for our survival.
I believe unless we are able to continue to maintain our deep respect of our profound Buddhist teachings but also acknowledge the benefits of the promotion of our private sector (just as we view the importance of secularism) we will not be able to create a future modern Tibetan society.