Wednesday, March 2, 2011
India Raids Holy Money To Karmapa - 3
By Manuwant Choudhary
McLeodganj, Dharamsala: Even as the Indian media cover the Karmapa issue like a cheap spy-thriller, this action of the Indian government in attempting to portray the Karmapa as a `Chinese spy' has hurt all Tibetans.
The Karmapa in his decade of exile has not said a word against the Indian government or against the Dalai Lama.
India is of course jittery that the Chinese have sent the Karmapa to India to gain control of the rich Rumtek monastery.
And what happens when the Karmapa succeeds the Dalai Lama as the spiritual and political heir of the Dalai Lama and says that the Chinese government is doing great work giving jobs to the Tibetans?
Questions and more questions.
But the real question is that is the secular Indian government meddling in Tibetan religious affairs only to control the Karmapa?
They have accused the Karmapa of violating foriegn exchange rules and also that he wanted to buy benami properties to build a monastery.
But while this may appear to be news to Indians, at Dharamsala itself this is an old issue and the Tibetan government in exile has been in talks with the Himachal Pradesh government to relax the rules to enable Tibetans to buy land openly.
Its ironical that while the BJP activists campaign against article 370 which grants special status to Kashmir, denying Indians the right to buy property there, it doesn't talk about section 118 Himachal Pradesh Tenancy & Land Reforms Act which is an old socialist act, which says only farmers can buy land in Himachal Pradesh.
Yes, you got that right even Himachali businessmen need government permission to buy land.
As for the Tibetans, India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru granted asylum, successive Indian governments have not addressed core issues faced by Tibetans. In 50 years their population has increased and surely they cannot live at refugee colonies all their lives.
They also have larger families to support so they become hotel oowners or run restaurants or sell wollens, many such businesses require land.
But Titebans were not allowed to buy land.
So like the Tibetans, the issue of the Karmapa should not be viewed from a purely legal viewpoint.
Surely, the Karmapa does not have a Chinese passport !
Near the Dalai Lama residence is a Buddha temple, and outside I watch a 3-year-old Tenzin Chechup plays with an Indian child.
I wondered what Tenzin would grow up to be.
Just a refugee - a child with no country.
I also wondered whether he would be as freindly to Indians when he grows.
Or will he be angry?
Would he even question his faith?
Tenzin's future lies in what we Indians do to him.
How our governments treat him?
So with all these questions I went to meet another Tibetan Member of Parliament Mr. Dawa Tsering. He also runs a school called Yongling School.
As I arrived at the school kindergarden school children greeted me with a smile and a `Namaste'.
When I just smiled at them, they became a chorus and shouted `Jee Maharaj' and burst out laughing.
It was clear they love to watch TV serials like the Mahabharat where courtiers worship their kings.
But Tibetans are no courtiers and hence the glee.
Tibetans are independent and free.
They want to return home but with self-respect and dignity and freedoms.
By evening Mr. Dawa Tsering was at home. The first time he entered the Tibetan parliament was as a nominee of the Dalai Lama himself.
But through his years as Mayor of Mcleodganj and social works in the area he has a greater understanding of the problems faced by the Tibetan community.
He said, "The Tibetans did not buy the benami lands on their own, its their Indian friends who showed them a loop-hole in the laws that would enable them to get on with their lives."
Mr. Dawa Tsering explains, " the Indian government should have a policy that if a refugee is born here then he should be allowed to buy land."
Since 1996 Mr. Dawa Tsering has been campaigning for land rights to Tibetans.
But the Himachal government said that the only way to legalise benami transactions was for the Central Tibetan Administration to first submit them a list of the benami properties which the HP government would acquire and then lease it back to the Central Tibetan Authority after they pay 10 per cent of the market rates to the HP government.
So after years of struggle the Tibetans submitted a list of 70 benami properties, both individuals and institutions, and a cabinet order was passed on May 8, 2005, under Clause 3 of article 348 of the Constitution of India as a one-time settlement.
Later on a case to case basis also the HP government would grant permissions for buying land.
Said Mr Tsering, "So the Karmapa also has applied for permissions to buy land."
But the process is slow and even Tibetans are lazy about it all. "Its so much easier to give money and buy land."
Mr. Dawa Tsering's father served in the Indian territorial army and talking to him we did not see the time, until we found dinner on our tables in front.
Mr. Tsering is a vegetarian.
After a long day I relished the home-cooked chicken curry and rice.
I asked Mr. Tsering whether he enjoys his life as a Tibetan MP and what do the MPs do? His reply, "Often we have MPs taking credit for works completed months ago by someone else."
As I walked through the dark to my hotel I wondered why the Indian government agreed to stop talking about Tibet when China said that Sikkim is an integral part of India.
Its not the Karmpa, but the Indian government which has sold out to the Chinese.
We have abandoned Tibet.