Saturday, May 10, 2008

Letter for Tenzin

Dear Tenzin,

I felt miserable after reading your letter. I really apologise that my harsh words caused you personal anguish, and I in no way meant to do that to anyone. I wrote that post on a really angry afternoon and should not have used some of the tough words I used there. I am not a bigot or xenophobe; I apologise, again. It was very uncharacteristic of me and thanks for writing in with such eloquence. I have, you will notice, edited my post to try and make it less offensive.

I do, of course, stand by my views.

Our personal experiences often shape our larger world view. That is perhaps true for both you and me on this issue. You told me of your grandfather; I also know of the pain of a young Kashmiri Pandit woman whose grandfather was brutally killed by people in Kashmir who are now public figures. Then she and her family had to leave their home at a few minutes' notice.

Truth has many faces, and they are often equally true in some measure for all of us. That is how the world works, and that is why people disagree. So even as I completely respect your angst and anguish, I feel the Tibetan community needs to engage and connect more with the people of the country that welcomed it. You say I do not know about the community -- and perhaps you are right -- but could the community have done more at its end to let an Indian citizen understand them better?

I also feel that India needs to get its convoluted policy on Tibet a bit more straightened out, and to look with greater empathy at displaced people within the country who are bearing the brunt of someone else's madnesses.

I was disappointed that you wrote that you are "as much Indian" as I am. You mentioned how you cheer for the cricket team etc. As an Indian citizen, I do not urge your loyalty to India. If you feel Indian, I am honoured that you do. But that is really not my business -- you don't have to prove anything to anybody. Loyalty is not my concern at all -- I am not one of those who will say that a Hindu is very sporting when he cheers for Pakistan but a Muslim is a traitor.

And I hope that the next time the Kashmiri Pandits or Gujarat riot survivors or SEZ victims protest their displacement, the Tibetan Youth Congress and the young generation of Tibetans will lend a chorus of support -- to others who have lost homes and homelands just like they have.


vikas pandey said...

Bravo Neelesh,

What a mature response to Tenzin’s anguish. As a reader and supporter of the Tibet cause I found nothing wrong in your post.

It was more of your anger over the Indian government’s unprecedented support to China on Tibet.

We certainly don’t want Tibetans to prove their loyalty towards India. It’s very personal, if they feel like Indians, nothing is better than that.

I have seen poor and unemployed Indian youth working in the shops owned by new breed of ‘rich’ Tibetans.

If we raise our concerns, it is perfectly justified.

Kashimri pundits’ migration is another issue which never gets attention of main stream media, may be they are not colorful.

It’s a high time; Tibetans should echo voices of unheard and try to win the hearts of millions who know them only through TV.

I hope Tenzin is listening.



xanthic said...

Hi Vikas,
You said you found nothing wrong in neelesh's post... I have just one question for you -- did you read the original version that Neelesh wrote (before he edited and pasted it again last night)?
Have no doubt, I agree with most things he said, my problem was the language

sengemo said...

When you don't have food to eat, what is the first thing that you would do - go shout and protest about freedom or find food for your hungry family?
That is exactly what has happened with the Tibetan refugees. When my grandparents came from tibet, they didn’t know a word of hindi, forget about anything else. So they worked on the roads, mostly in Himachal, living in roadside tents (my mamaji was born in one such tent, he's a monk now). When my parent’s generation grew up, their immediate concern was to settle down in life. Some of the lucky ones did get education but most had to resort to selling sweaters on the road, like my parents still do.
We are much better off now compared to the times when my grandparents came. Though I am a third generation Tibetan in exile, with modern education, I am still the 'first' generation Tibetan which has got an opportunity to do something meaningful and make lives better. So as I find my ground, make Indian friends and try and absorb the world around, I am questioned, like in one of the very recent Tehelka issues – what have the Tibetans done for their host country?
How am I supposed to react? I know I need not show my loyalty. But what am I to say when people of the country I was born in, the only place I call home because I don’t know any other place I this whole world, not even Tibet, ask me what have you done till now?
Yes, the Indian govt needs to sort out its foreign policy and I, in my power, will contribute as much as I can, as I have till now. I studied in a Tibetan school, funded by the Indian govt of course, and didn’t have any Indian friends till I went to college. There I made friends and I have been very lucky in that sense that they are very genuine people, very good human beings. I slowly started understanding their issues and problems.
So now what I do as an individual is tell my fellow Tibetans to engage more with Indians, to understand them and share with them because whatever we have, we have got from them. I remember a case of one girl who had gone to Tibet. There at the main market in Lhasa she saw some Indian tourists. She screamed with joy and went running up to them, to talk to them and find out where in India they are from. This is how much we love India. Yes we have horrible, horrible people in our community just like anywhere else but the number of us who are thankful and grateful is much, much more.

special.member said...

When I lived in Nainital and I went to a Tibetan shop - the shopkeeper told me - "Go. This shop is not for locals. This is for tourists. You cannot afford this stuff."

Maybe there are a few Tibetans in the Army or making roads. But lets talk about the Tibetan shopkeepers selling Indian goods as foreign goods all over the place. I was told in Dalhousie how they had become the local mafia and murdered locals for property. I know they were the reasons why the local kumauni is shopless and on roads because the Government pampers the Tibetans.

"many Tibetans died fighting for India", "My grandfather, like many, died making roads" - So what? they took a job, they were drawing salary, they died while serving - so did many other Indians.
Lets not mix the two. Tibetans are Tibetans. Indians are Indians. And my problem is that have forgotten that they are refugees and so has the Indian Government.

sengemo said...

what do u call me special member? I was born in India. What am I? Tibetan or Indian?
and I cud also just be like u when u said so what. So what if u were told u wont be able to afford? SO WHAT?
And why should we just talk about the shopkeepers? If u have such a problem then go contact your local authorities and complain.
The thing is we can go on and on about this...argument is not going to lead us anywhere. My point is don't generalise.

Anonymous said...

I am a Tibetan, but I think I am as much Indian as any Indian can be. This became very clear to me when I came to study in the US. We had few Indian American students at our school also. As someone who has lived in India for a long time, I found myself showing my Indian side to my friends by teaching them the right Indian spoken words. When we had a cultural show, I was actively involved with the indian groups, infact my friends looked up to me to choreograph bollywood and bhangra dance show.

One day when I met a Chinese student, she was surprised to hear me say I was from India. She said she was curious why I had a Japanese face yet speak with an Indian Accent. But I was always happy to say I was from India.

I know I am a Tibetan by race, but there is also a part of me that makes me consider myself as an Indian also. I am not ashamed to say this. India is a great country with great culture. And I am proud to be associated with it.

Do I feel grateful to India? There is no question about this. I am always and will always remain grateful to Bharat Maa.

We are Tibetans, and we know who has helped us for all those years. We are not that 'Ehsan Phara Mosh'. We are not 'Namak Halal'.

If any Indian has met Tibetans who don't sound grateful to India, I will apologize on their behalf. But please know this that Tibetans at large including me are always to the support and love of the Indians.

Neelesh Misra said...


I urge contributors to please temper their comments, especially since they appear unedited.


nikes said...

@special. member, I am Indian and have faced very similar responses from fellow Indian shopkeepers and resort owners etc. ditto for the mafia angle. Stupid generalisations do not help yopur facts right before making sweeping statements

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Our country is aspiring for UN security council.We are telling the world that we can handle all the responsibilities.Recently even one indian contested for the position of UN general secretary.And we have you as an intelligent indian who feels a great burden of having our kith and kins(Tibetans) in our country.
Your article is insulting to many indians like me who believe that our country has the strength and will to shoulder any responsibilities and honour an ancient relationship with our beloved tibetans.

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