Friday, December 18, 2015

Exploring 3 Key Challenges of Tibetan Youth Congress in the United States





“The Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) is a worldwide Organization of Tibetans united in our common struggle for the restoration of complete independence for the whole of Tibet, which includes the tradition three provinces of U-Tsang, Do-toe, and Do-med. An independent Organization, with a written constitution and its own plans and programmes, TYC has emerged as the largest and most active non-governmental organization of Tibetans in exile. It has more than 30,000 members worldwide”
- Tibetan Youth Congress Official Website.

With the disintegration of eight highly-populated regional chapters in India and now its chapter in New York and New Jersey which has the largest concentration of Tibetans in North America, the claim of largest non-governmental organization of Tibetans in exile and having more than 30,000 members worldwide could be under serious question. With the breakdown of highly-populated chapters and general Tibetan’s growing distance from the Tibetan Youth Congress, the whole movement of Tibetan struggle is in disarray. Petty internal politics has taken over the important discourse of how to help and support Tibetans in Tibet.


Though the TYC has seen difficult times in the past several years, it’s time to rebuilt the organization and its image in the Tibetan diaspora population. With the hope of working towards the rebuilding of TYC, this piece is written to explore three key challenges Tibetan Youth Congress face in the United States.


Clarify its aims and objectives:

One of the key sticking points for its members and non-members is the existing contradiction in its aims and objectives. Members of TYC accept to perform the following tasks :
  1. To dedicate oneself to the task of serving one’s country and people under the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the Spiritual and Temporal Ruler of Tibet.
  2. To promote and protect national unity and integrity by giving up all distinctions based on religion, regionalism or status.
  3. To work for the preservation and promotion of religion and Tibet’s unique culture and traditions.
  4. To struggle for the total independence of Tibet even at the cost of one’s life.
Number 1 and 4 are contradictory. This contradiction has become a major hurdle in sustaining unity among its regional chapters. Some of these chapters have refused to part away from the status of “regional chapters” because they argue that the first aims and objectives allows them to support Middle Way Approach to resolve the issue of Tibet as per the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The TYC may need to change or reword the first aims and objectives if they are to truly follow the path of total independence for Tibet.

Limited or no control over its regional chapters in the United States:

The Tibetan Youth Congress (the Centrex based in Dharamsala, India) has no legal authority or control over any of its regional chapters in the United States. For instance, Regional Tibetan Youth Congress of New York and New Jersey is a “separate legal entity” registered in the state of New York as a non-profit organization. Their legal entity name is Tibetan Youth Association Inc. When it is an incorporated organization, the legal authority of the organization lies with its current board of directors/members.

Hence, the December 16 press release to temporarily close and hand over the assets to the four interim members may not hold any water at all. In other words, TYC has no control over the management or operation of its chapter in New York and New Jersey.


This should be taken as a learning experience for TYC. In order to avoid similar ramifications in the future, TYC needs to immediately draft and pass a Chapter Charter or Affiliation Agreement with a parent organization in the United States. This chapter charter or affiliation agreement will help TYC to lawfully act in matters concerning it’s chapters in the coming future.


Exclusion of general Tibetans:

As shared earlier, the Tibetans in general are keeping distance from the Tibetan Youth Congress. This is a huge blow to the work that TYC will initiate now or in the future. Without public support, no organization will survive for long.


The support from general public may come and go. To make it come again, TYC should be more proactive in reaching out to general public. For instance, during the recent visit of TYC President and its executive member in New York, they met with the current RTYC executive members and former RTYC executive members. However, they failed to make a connection with the general public by completely ignoring the visit to address them. The public address was more important this time as the Tibetan people in New York and New Jersey have elected the current executive members of RTYC.


Conclusion:

As an organization, the TYC has an important role in the history of Tibetan struggle movement. Tibetans can not effort to lose Tibetan Youth Congress as it is not only symbolism of Tibetan resistance against the ongoing Chinese atrocities in Tibet but also has an organizational value that was built in the past couple of decades with sweat, blood and countless sacrifices. It will be a shame if the organization struggles to survive in the future due to a lack of public support. Moreover, the success of TYC is highly essential to informally and continuously compliment the work of the Central Tibetan Administration of Dharamsala, India.


Also read:
and



Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Shift in Tibetan Preferred Spouses




"Students who made it to high school or college before failing out of school had a difficult time finding a husband or wife when they came back to the village. Villagers believed that people who hadn't grown up doing farm work as children wouldn't be able to handle all the work as adults and would probably screw it up anyway. No one wanted to arrange a marriage with someone like that" - Kunsang Dolma describing Tibet in 1990s in her book, "A Hundred Thousand White Stones."


It’s unknown if this belief system still remains strong in Tibet. However, this has been definitely not true in Tibetan Diaspora in India and Nepal.


In the 1970s and 1980s in Diaspora, Tibetans enrolled in Indian Army were considered as a preferred spouse in the Tibetan settlements in South India. You will hear a lot of stories about how these armies spent their vacation in Tibetan settlements with a stack of cash (such as several 100 and 500 bills placed in the front pocket of a transparent shirt) and displayable assets including Western watches and latest radio and cassette player. Many eligible women seems to fall for these young and seemingly economically viable army men.


Similarly, though very less in number, many also preferred those who were working in Tibetan institutions particularly in the Tibetan government in Exile. For instance, many government officials working in different Tibetan settlements in India and Nepal have married someone from these settlements. Also, there were a good number of incidents where some parents in these settlements have come to meet a visiting Tibetan government official with the hope of finding an educated and employed husband for their daughter. (Note: I am sharing incidents, stories, snippets and facts that I experienced as a Tibetan men).


However, since the re-settlement of Tibetans in the United States in early 1990s, the status of preferred spouse has shifted from Indian army or Tibetan officials to those in the West. Now, in general, any matrimonial offers that come from the West are unquestionably accepted.


No questions are ever asked on the economic capacity of petitioning spouse who lives in the West. No questions are directed towards the age, prior marriages, current religious affiliation, past backgrounds and other inquiries that were typically made in the past. Nothing matters (even spouses) when it comes to securing an easy route to a life in the West.


In this present time, the meaning as well as purpose of preferred spouses has changed to a level where it is too complicated to draw a fine line.


Once the spouse reaches the West, s/he start to realize that his/her preferred spouse is not the one s/he wants to live with for life. Hence, there are increasing number of divorces in the United States. The latest change in preferred spouses has impacted the Tibetan culture of family the most. And this will continue to impact with the ongoing expansion of Tibetan population in the West.






Thursday, October 15, 2015

Results and Analysis: Online Opinion Poll on 2016 Sikyong's Preliminary Election




PURPOSE

The purpose of this online survey is to provide eligible Tibetan electorates with scientific and non-biased opinion poll designed to measure general public's view on their choice of candidates for the 2016 Sikyong's preliminary election.


METHODOLOGY

  • The poll opened on August 10, 2015 and closed on October 1, 2015
  • The poll was shared using Google Form to collect the data via Facebook wall post and group posts
  • Per survey administrator's understanding, these Facebook groups represent a larger section of general public.
  • When the poll was shared on survey administrator's Facebook wall post, no individual were tagged in the post to minimize response biases. On the survey request, clear information were provided in terms of anonymity.
  • The online poll carried only 7 questionnaire items with one on participant's eligibility; one on participant's vote; and the remaining five on participant's demographic.

RESULTS

Figure 1.
Figure 1.   Of the 956 total responses, 924 (97%) respondents were Tibetan and eligible to vote. This result is based on these 924 responses.


Figure 2.
Figure 2.   Of the 924 responses, Lobsang Sangay received 50% of the total vote counts while Penpa Tsering received 22% followed by Lukar Jam at 15% and Tashi Wangdu at 13%.


Figure 3.
 Figure 3.   Based on this online opinion poll, male Tibetans seem to take greater interest in the Tibetan preliminary election for 2016 Sikyong.


Percentage of Participants by Age Group
Figure 4.
 Figure 4.    More than 70% of the participants were younger than 40.



 Percentage of Participants by Country of Residence
Figure 5.
 Figure 5.   More than 50% of the participants were from North America and India.  However, a large portion of participants chose to remain unknown.


Figure 6.
 Figure 6.    63% of the participants have at least Bachelor degree. While 90% of the participants have at least graduated High School. Only 1% have no education at all and 7% some education.  



Figure 7.

Figure 7.    A total of 546 participants are employed while 119 attends college, 36 are either unemployed or not working, 29 are either monk or nun and 173 consider themselves as others.


ANALYSIS OF SUPPORTERS


Who are the supporters of Lobsang Sangay?


Figure 8.

Figure 9. 

Figure 10.

Figure 11.

Figure 12. 



Who are the supporters of Penpa Tsering?

Figure 13.

Figure 14.

Figure 15.

Figure 16.

Figure 17.



Who are the supporters of Lukar Jam?


Figure 18.

Figure 19.

Figure 20.

Figure 21.

Figure 22.



Who are the supporters of Tashi Wangdu?

Figure 23. 

Figure 24.

Figure 25.

Figure 26.

Figure 27.



Something to think about?

Figure 28.
Figure 29.

If you closely look at figure 28 and 29 above, among the two country of residence having the largest vote share in this opinion poll, there seems to be a shift in female participation.  Female in North America tends to take more interest in the 2016 Sikyong preliminary election than those in India.


 
Figure 30.
Looking at figure 30, participants having no formal education tend to support Lukar Jam (50%) and Penpa Tsering (40%).


Figure 31.
From the above figure, participants having highest educational qualification (i.e. Doctorate Degree such as Ph.D) tend to support Penpa Tsering (41%) the most, followed by Lukar Jam (27%) and Lobsang Sangay (27%).


FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION

Lobsang Sangay, incumbent Sikyong of Central Tibetan Administration, tops the opinion poll with a whopping margin of 28% from the second candidate Penpa Tsering, Speaker of Tibetan Parliament in-Exile. Penpa Tsering (22%) is followed by Lukar Jam at 15% and Tashi Wangdu at 13%. As the fifth candidate for Sikyong Tashi Topgyal declared after the opening of this poll, he was not in the list of 2016 Sikyong candidates.  However, in the future opinion poll, his name will be included.

Figure 32.
Among others, one vote was for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and two for Samdhong Rinpoche.  It's important to note that these two voters for Samdhong Rinpoche seem to understand that Tibetans can elect Samdhong Rinpoche for the third time as per the rules of Tibetan Election Commission.

If you take a closer look at the supporters of each candidates,  you will understand the gaps.  These gaps could be filled by any candidate if he gears his future campaign towards targeting these group of eligible voters.

Based on the findings of this online opinion poll, it's projected that Lobsang Sangay will emerge as the winner of 2016 Sikyong's preliminary election.  He will be followed by Penpa Tsering, Tashi Wangdu, Lukar Jam and Tashi Topgyal respectively.


Figure 33.

LIMITATIONS

Online surveys are not without limitations. Some of the limitations of this online nomination survey are:

1. Participations of eligible Tibetan voters with no computer and English language skills were excluded from the study.
2. With no one-time participatory settings for the online poll, a participant could have voted more than one.
3. With Tibetan electorates spread across the world, it was not possible to adopt a good sampling technique. Therefore, the study’s finding cannot be termed as statistically significant.
4. As the fifth candidate for Sikyong Tashi Topgyal declared after the opening of this poll, he was not in the list of 2016 Sikyong candidates. However, in the future opinion poll, his name will be included.


CONCLUSION

Taking the time and space into consideration, I tried to not pull in too many details and analysis. If you have specific questions, please feel free to leave a comment here.



Note: If you are interested in looking at the raw data, please go to this link https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17VVt290rWKMl7JAGnd2_dHsfXmZsHWKhWm-yDENgeag/edit?usp=sharing



Also read:  




Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Are Tibetans in Minnesota right in denying venue for Lukar Jam's public talk?





Many have raised eyebrows over the denial of Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota's (TAFM) cultural center (or community hall) as a venue for the public talk by 2016 Sikyong's candidate Lukar Jam. However, the larger question here is not about the majority of general public's decision to not allow the venue for the purpose of political campaign initiated and supported by Friends of Lukar Jam - Minnesota. Rather, it's more about following the law of the land i.e. what is allowed and not allowed under the regulations that binds TAFM's activities in the United States.


Similar to many other Tibetan associations in North America, TAFM is a registered non-profit organization having a status of exemption under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. When you as an organization applies for the status of section 501(c)(3), you are prohibited or restricted from certain activities. Let me quote from the Internal Revenue Service document:

"No substantial part of the activities of the corporation (for example: TAFM) shall be the carrying on of propaganda, or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, and the corporation shall not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distribution of statements) any political campaign on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office."

Note: Most non-profit organizations in the United States are incorporated as corporation.


If you would like to read more into the details, please scroll down:


"Prohibited or restricted activities. Certain activities are prohibited or restricted for organizations exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3).  ...organizations exempt under section 501(c)(3) must:

Refrain from supporting or opposing candidates in political campaigns in any way.

An organization exempt under section 501(c)(3) is prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to all campaigns, including campaigns at the federal, state, and local level.

Political campaign intervention includes any and all activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention. Distributing statements prepared by others that favor or oppose any candidate for public office will also violate the prohibition. Allowing a candidate to use an organization’s assets or facilities will also violate the prohibition if other candidates are not given an equivalent opportunity.

Certain activities will require an evaluation of all the facts and circumstances to determine whether they result in political campaign intervention. For example, section 501(c)(3) organizations are permitted to conduct certain voter education activities (including the presentation of public forums and the publication of voter education guides) if they are carried out in a non-partisan manner. In addition, section 501(c)(3) organizations may encourage people to participate in the electoral process through voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives conducted in a non-partisan manner. On the other hand, voter education or registration activities conducted in a biased manner that favors (or opposes) one or more candidates is prohibited." (Source - Internal Revenue Service)


Discussion and Recommendation:

As a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Tibetan associations need to understand the rules and regulations that binds the organization.  The violation of this particular "prohibited or restricted activities" may result in the suspension or revocation of 501(c)(3) status.  Moreover, it may also result in the closing down of the non-profit organization itself wherein you lose all organizational assets (including the community hall) to the federal, state or local government. 




Also read: 
and





Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Being One of the Shi-Chak Wala




Growing up in a Tibetan refugee settlement (shi-chak) was filled with challenges; mainly due to its remote location and lack of accessibility to many modern amenities. You have to wait days to get half an hour of tap water; you have to live half a day with no electricity; you have only one bus going through the settlement to visit the nearest town; your only source of irrigation is the rain God; you are accustomed to wearing clothes with several old and new patches; you have to work in the farm after school hours and on holidays; you have to graze your cows in the woods; you have to walk almost half a kilometer to get spring/river waters; you have to study under dim light coming from a home-made-bottle-kerosene lamp; and the list of challenges goes on.


However, moving out of shi-chak is even more challenging and depressing. You are looked down as Shi-Chak Wala. This identity tag comes with a derogatory meaning that stands parallel to backwardness, ignorance and dark complexion. I still remember the discrimination that students from Shi-Chak Wala face in the Tibetan boarding schools. If you are from shi-chak, you are looked down even by the school officials. I remember one incident which is still fresh in my memory.

Even before I moved to Central School for Tibetans (CST) Mussoorie in Uttaranchal for Class XI and XII, I heard a lot about existing discrimination against a student from Shi-Chak Wala. It was not easy moving to a boarding school away from parents and scared of what is coming. 

The discrimination from fellow students was expected but I was never prepared for the same from school official. My brief incident is shared below.



After about a month in the school, as most 16 years old kids do, we (a group of students from my own shi-chak) were just gossiping during the study hour. The rector of the school caught us gossiping and asked:

"Where are you all from?"

"Kollegal" we replied.

The rector then said, "Though you have great marks in class X (from CST Kollegal), you will not survive the Mussoorie weather."

It was such a derogatory and discouraging statement that I promised myself to prove him wrong. The real meaning of his statement could be read as below:

"You all have secured these great marks in class X because of cheating. CST Mussoorie is not fit for cheaters. You all will fail and return to your own shi-chak soon."

In class XII board examination results, I proved him wrong by securing better marks than many of his own school students. I even received Merit Scholarship from the Department of Education, Central Tibetan Administration, Dharamsala. The point here is not about me. It's about the prevalence of discrimination that students from shi-chak faces in our own Tibetan school.

Though it may be decades since I graduated, the discrimination still exists. This is one example of discrimination but there are many more such as girls from shi-chak are easy going and cheap; Shi-Chak Wala has big and bare feet; and Shi-Chak Wala has to travel in buses along with cows, goats and sheep. 

Now, whenever I visit shi-chak, I always feel proud to have spent early days of my life here. I realize that I am more compassionate because of my experience with poverty. I have more empathy because of my exposure to different level of life challenges. I appreciate nature because of my personal experience with the work of farming.

In short, I am proud to be one among those Shi-Chak Walas.  These life experiences made me a better and stronger person.  Are you one of those proud Shi-Chak Walas and have a story to tell?  Feel free to comment below.










Monday, August 24, 2015

Tibetan Settlements in South India: Where Money and Power Dictates




"if your living in a shechak Its all about money money...you pay fine if you miss a meeting, if you miss a prayer meeting, if you miss a lhapso..... or mani...."


The above statement - a Facebook comment on one of my wall post - gave a much-needed spark for the birth of this article. Since I grew up in one of the biggest Tibetan settlements in South India, this statement was so true to me and my family members. I am still living these experiences through my parents, sibling and relatives in the settlement.


Though many residents of these settlements struggle to survive, I have witnessed that overwhelming number of fines and penalties were imposed for non-adherence to shady guidelines, questionable directives and unfair rules and regulations (R&R). These guidelines, directives and R&R mostly come from the Tibetan Settlement Office, Tibetan Cooperative Society, non-governmental organizations, committees such as annual prayer committee and/or camp leaders.

The primary reason for these guidelines, directives or rules and regulations is to make sure that the general public participates or involves in these community building or re-building works such as repair of roads, maintenance of community buildings, construction related to any projects, cleaning of school and hospital campuses, firewood for school kitchen and repair of drinking water pipes.

Often times, fines and penalties were also imposed for non-participation in community hall meetings when a high ranking official from Dharamsala visits the settlement as well as for non-participation in the annual prayer service that stretches for more than a month.


Freedom to practice his/her rights to participate or not participate in these meetings and prayer services are not an option. In these settlements, imposition or dictation of power outplays the importance of individual rights and democratic freedom.

More disturbingly, every household in the settlement are required to help cover the cost of travel and living expenses for individuals traveling to New Delhi or other big cities in India to participate in political demonstration. These protests are largely organized by non-governmental political organization. Residents willingly or unwillingly have to pay for these individual travel expenses to help them participate in a political protest or demonstration.

The question is - for how long, poor residents have to bear these ongoing extortion in the name of whatever-seems-best-fit-description provided by individual holding some kind of power or influence?

(If you are not from Tibetan settlements, let me provide you with a short background of these fines or penalties. As per Central Tibetan Administration's land rules and regulations (simple translation), every member in the household are eligible for housing and land for agricultural purpose. Household members - who were allocated housing and land - are asked to follow these guidelines, directives and R&R.)

Source: www.tibetanparliament.org

As a "permanent solution" to these frequent and ongoing harassment in the name of fines and penalties, several residents opted to return the land and housing allocated to their family members who moved to other countries such as Canada. This request of return is in accordance with CTA's land rules and regulations passed by the Tibetan Parliament in-Exile (see these two snapshots - one above and other below - to read Article 10 and 11 with emphasis on highlighted sections).

However, the reaction from some officials were very disturbing. They asked to return ALL land and housing including family members currently residing in the settlement. Where will these family members go?   This is a perfect example of an abuse of power by certain officials who prefer to suppress the voice of poor as well as CTA's land rules and regulations.

To understand the above para, let me provide an example.  Mr. A lives with his wife Mrs. B, son Mr. C and daughter Ms. D in XYZ Tibetan settlement.  They all received land and housing as per CTA's land rules and regulations.  However, Mrs. B and Mr. C moved and settled in Canada in 2012.  In accordance with the R&R, Mr. A submits a request to return the land and housing of Mrs. B and Mr. C who settled in Canada since 2012.  However, the officials refused to accept the partial return and instead, asked to return ALL land and housing including that of Mr. A and Ms. D.  This will leave Mr. A and Ms. D displaced with nowhere to go or call home. 

Source: www.tibetanparliament.org

The request for land and housing return for those who migrated to other countries is lawful and valid.  It is also logical and reasonable if you look at young men and women leaving these settlements for better jobs in cities or migrating to the West with the hope of economic prosperity. In many household, elders who are not physically capable of participating in many of these compulsory obligations are the only ones left in the settlement. One Facebook comment sums up well, "I have my grandma living in shechak n she has to go to all meeting, mani and work weather it is raining or on a hot sunny day...n let u remind you all mani are mostly held after dark which makes it worse coz most of our elders have eyesight problem.."

When I asked my parents, "Why don't you object to these never-ending rounds of fines and penalties?" Their response in general were, "no one is speaking up." In these settlements, people who speaks up are considered problem makers. I understand why my parents prefer to stay silent; otherwise they may be labelled as rebellious. And if someone speaks up or raises his voice, officials try to shut him up by effectively using His Holiness the Dalai Lama's name. They will make him feel as if you are disrespecting the advice of His Holiness.

Discussion

How long this practice will go depends on how long these residents will collectively shut their voices. Residents need to understand that "no one" is above the law. And law is created through a process guided by the principle of democracy.

The sustainability of these settlements depend on its residents. If residents are exploited in the guise of fines and penalties, we may soon see Tibetan settlements with only a handful of people who call themselves powerful.

Remember! Money and power will not help sustain these settlements. What will help is RESPECTING the needs and interests of its residents.

Appeal:
If you have any story of social injustice to cover in this blog, feel free to contact me via email or comment below.








Glossary of Tibetan terms
Shechak - Tibetan word for Tibetan settlements or colonies in India/Nepal
Lhapso - A public gathering for prayers
Mani - Buddhist mantra



Thursday, August 20, 2015

Final Result: NOMINATION OF 2016 NORTH AMERICA CHITUES' CANDIDATE




Purpose

The purpose of this online nomination survey is to help eligible Tibetan voters in North America to study and discuss their choice of two candidates for 2016 North America Chitue.

Methodology

The survey was first launched on June 23, 2015 and was open for eligible Tibetan voters until August 12, 2015.  Participants were approached using Online Google Form as a survey tool to collect the data.  Facebook groups such as Tibetan, IMTIBETAN, NY NJ Tibetan College Students, GTPN - North America and North America Tibetan Political Network were used to inform and reach a maximum of eligible Tibetan voters in North America.

This online nomination survey carried only four questionnaire items: Who is your FIRST nominee for the North America Chitue? Who is your SECOND nominee for the North America Chitue? Where do you live now? and Are you eligible to vote?

Results

A total of 106 eligible voters participated in this online survey nomination.  Of the total of 212 (106*2 Chitues) responses, 23 responses were marked "invalid" for two reasons: unidentifiable single names such as Kunga, Dorjee, Dawa, Tsering, Tenzin, none and lobsang; and invalid nominations such as Gari Dolma, Geshe Youngdung Gyaltsen, Lobsang Sangay, Tashi Wangdu and the survey administrator Tenzin Yeshi.

Moreover, candidates receiving less than or equal to three counts of nomination were consolidated into "Others" which boils down to the 25% of total nominations.

Findings

Of the total of 106 participants, 81 were from the United States, 23 from Canada and 2 remains Unknown.  This majority of participants from the United States could be true if you look at the proportion of Tibetan immigrant population in these two countries; Tibetans in the United States could at least be three times the population of Tibetans in Canada.

Figure 1. Number of participants by country of residence
(Click to enlarge)

Who is the Winner?

In this poll, there is no clear winner if you analyze by looking solely at the percentage of total nomination received. In figure 2 below, 60% of the total nominations were "Others", "Undecided" or "Invalid".


Figure 2. Percentage of Total Nominations
(Click to enlarge)


However, if you disregard "Others", "Undecided" and "Invalid", you will get a different set of percentage.  In the figure 3 below, Anak Tseten (26%) received the largest share of nominations followed by Tenzin Dorjee (19%), Tenzin Rangdol (19%) and Tashi Namgyal (12%).  There were other four who received less than 10% of the nominations (excluding others, undecided and invalid): Kalsang Phuntsok with 9%, Norbu Tsering with 6%, Tsering Tsomo with 5% and Kunga Thinley with 4%.


Figure 3. Percentage of Nominations
(Click to enlarge)

Participants have used different name spells.  Anak Tseten was written as Anak Tseten, Anak Tsetan, Tsetan Anak, and Tseten Anak;  Tenzin Dorjee as Tendor, Tenzing Dorjee ex-SFT President, Tenzing Dorji, Tenzin Dorjee and Tenzin Dorji (Tendor); Tenzin Rangdol as Tenzin Zrangdol, Tenzin Rangdol, Tenzin Randrol, and Rigdol or Rangdol (CA); Tashi Namgyal as Tashi Namgyal, Tashi Namgyal (chithu) and Tashi Namgyal la (Present NA Chitue).

Of the four nominees receiving less than 10% of nominations, the most confusing was Kalsang Phuntsok.  He was nominated as Kalsang Phuntsok, Kalsang Phuntsok former president of TYC, Kelsang Phuntsok - San Francisco, and Kelsang Phuntsok La (ExTYC President). And Tsering Tsomo was nominated as Tsering Tsomo, Tsering Tsomo ex president ctao/ex twa exec and Tsering Tsomo, Toronto.

Limitations
This online survey has many limitations including the lack of participation from eligible voters. The result generated from these 106 participants could be statistically insignificant.

Confidentiality
During the online survey, participants were not required to identify themselves.  They remain anonymous throughout the survey.

Discussion
Looking at the findings of this online nomination survey, it helped to provide a good list of eligible candidates for 2016 North America Chitue.  However, this does not mean that there are no other qualified candidates for 2016 North America Chitue.

If you are qualified and interested, it is the time to declare your candidacy for the 2016 North America Chitue.  The time is short.

Since a close to 50% of this survey participants were either Undecided or nominated Others, the winners of 2016 North America Chitue's preliminary election could be anyone.

Recommendation and Conclusion
Per the understanding of survey administrator, only Tenzin Rangdol from California has publicly announced his interest in running for the 2016 North America Chitue.  However, the findings of this study may help many qualified candidates to publicly announce their interest in running for the 2016 North America Chitue.

If any of the remaining seven nominees of this survey is interested in running for the 2016 North America Chitue, please send your short bio to the survey administrator by the end of August 2015 via tenyeshi@gmail.com.  This will help the administrator to include your name in the Upcoming Online Opinion Poll on 2016 North America Chitue Preliminary Election.




Monday, August 3, 2015

Tibetan Women, Gender Equality and Women Rights: Tsering Kyi



Recently, Tsering Kyi, a journalist at the VOA, gave a lecture to Tibetan students at Sogar, near Dharamsala. While the focus of the lecture was not on feminism, for she talked about her personal experiences - about her struggle as a refugee from Tibet, her participation in Miss Tibet contest - during the question and answer session, some of the students pressed her on issues of 'gender equality and women's rights' in the Tibetan society. Her views on them seem to have created a bit of 'controversy' in our small diaspora community, for I have received a few requests for a translation of her lecture that was reported in the Tibet Times newspaper. I'm sharing this translation to initiate an open, honest, and serious discussion; not to bask in the pleasure of controversy and mudslinging. Readers, please think and reflect carefully before you write your comments. If you resort to personal attacks, that is if you make any irresponsible comments, I am going to chop them off. Please be responsible; I know it's hard, but it's high time we grow up.

Here's the translation:

After her speech, one of the students asked if she has any plans in the future to do any specific work for Tibetan women, given the fact that today there are many people, both inside and outside Tibet, calling for women’s right and equality. To this question, Tsering Kyi gave the following answer:

“I have no desire to do any specific work for Tibetan women; I don’t also think that Tibetan women lack freedom. When I first left my homeland, I thought Tibetan women were backward, that they were denied education, that they had no rights whatever in the community. In fact, I wrote a few essays on this issue. But after having had the experience of living in diverse human communities, I realized that Tibetan women in Tibet are far more precious (རྩ་ཆེན་མོ་Tsa Chenmo) and enjoy much more happiness than those living in other countries/ethnic societies. For instance, my mother and sister, they have sacrificed all their lives for their family, their children, and their husbands. They never lamented on their [sacrifice]; they never expressed dissatisfaction about this, nor they felt that as a source of hardship. What is the source of their courage? It is due to the [positive] influence of Tibetan religion and culture (ཆོས་དང་རིག་གཞུང་གི་བཞག་པའི་བག་ཆགས Chos dang Rig Shung Ki Shag Pe Bag Chag). [Our religion and culture] place different values on humans and non-humans. This, I think, is precious. If a woman living in the West, who has strong views about feminism, lives in our society and is able to influence our religion and culture deeply, then you might have a different view about “Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.”

Now, I don’t consider Tibetan women backward or being deprived of rights. In fact I have come to realize that my previous views were misplaced. After having seen many foreign societies, I feel the most important institution for a nation or a community is the family. Therefore, I think what sort of Tibetan society we will have in the future shall depend upon how Tibetan women take care of their families, how they love their children and respect their husbands.

If one wants women’s rights and gender equality, one should make it happen through one’s capability, rather than through a struggle (འཐབ་རྩོད། Thab Tso, literally argue and fight). Most Tibetan women in exile talk about women’s issues in order to advance their own personal interest and to draw attention to them. Such people have never studied Tibetan women, Tibetan nation, Tibetan religion and culture that influenced the Tibetan mind which has its precious way of putting value on things. I think they are just advancing their own interests by aping and exaggerating Western theories and practices. Therefore, I don’t struggle for Tibetan women’s rights; nor do I consider [gender] equality important.

Again responding to one of the students who asked, “judging by your lecture, it seems you have already crossed 30, but you have still not married; may I know the reason?” she said with sadness:

“I’m not finding a husband (laughs…) I’m joking. As far as I am concerned, in the beginning, since I had to leave my homeland, I had to go through a lot of struggle. Later I couldn’t even meet both my parents. Such conditions force me to self-reflect and ask this question: ‘why did I have to go through such struggle? Why I couldn’t visit Tibet when my parents passed away?’ To find concrete answer to such a question…. in one sense we share the same fate, where ever we go we are kind of guests, where ever we live we feel like living in guest houses, therefore we are forced to give up on many things such as family and love.”

As to the question ‘what sort of person she would love to marry in the future,’ Tsering Kyi said:

“My future companion of life will surely have to be a Tibetan; that’s what I am hoping for. He should be a courageous man, who can accept both my good and bad qualities.”


Author/Translator: Tenzin Nyinjey based in Dharamsala, India
(Originally published on his Facebook wall post on July 24, 2015)


If interested in reading the full article in Tibetan language published in Tibet Times on July 13, 2015, click here.



Saturday, August 1, 2015

Results of 2016 Sikyong's Candidate Nomination Poll: 1st Round



Purpose

The purpose of this online nomination survey is to help eligible Tibetan voters to think and discuss about their choice of candidate for 2016 Sikyong's preliminary election.

Methodology

The first round of online nomination survey on 2016 Sikyong's candidate was kept open for eligible Tibetan voters for a total of 8 days i.e., from July 24, 2015 to July 31, 2015 11:00 AM U.S. Eastern Time.

Participants were approached using Online Google Form as a survey tool to collect the data via Facebook groups such as Tibetan, IMTIBETAN, NY NJ Tibetan College Students, GTPN - North America, North America Tibetan Political Network, Tibetan Children's Village, TIBETAN YOUTH FORUM (TYF), Jobs and Opportunity for Tibetan and many others. Per survey administrator's understanding, these Facebook groups represent a larger section of general public.

When the survey was shared on survey administrator's Facebook wall post, no individual were tagged in the post to minimize response biases. On the survey request, clear information were provided in terms of anonymity.

The online nomination survey carried only 3 questionnaire items with one on candidate nomination; one on participant's country of residence and the remaining one on participant's eligibility to vote.

Results

Of the 312 total survey responses, 14 responses were invalid and 35 responses were consolidated into "Others." This result is an analysis of the remaining 263 valid survey responses.

Figure 1. Percentage of Nomination


Of the total nomination for 2016 Sikyong candidate, Lobsang Sangay received 41% of the total nomination counts while Penpa Tsering received 22% followed by Tashi Wangdu at 10% and Lukar Jam at 6%.


Figure 2. Number of Participants who nominated Lobsang Sangay by Country of Residence

Other names used for Lobsang Sangay by participants were Lobsang Sangey, Lobsang Sangya, Lobsang Sangye and Lobsang Sangyi.


Figure 3. Number of Participants who nominated Penpa Tsering by Country of Residence

Other names used for Penpa Tsering by participants were Pempa Tsering and Penba Tsering.


Figure 4. Number of Participants who nominated Tashi Wandu by Country of Residence

Other names used for Tashi Wangdu was only Tashi Wangdue.


Figure 5. Number of Participants who nominated Lukar Jam by Country of Residence

Other names used for Lukar Jam were Lukhar Jam, Lugar Jam and Lhukar Jam.


Figure 6. Percentage of Participants who were Undecided by country of residence


Findings and Discussion

Lobsang Sangay, incumbent Sikyong of Central Tibetan Administration, tops the nomination with a margin of 19% from the second candidate Penpa Tsering, Speaker of Tibetan Parliament in-Exile. Penpa Tsering (22%) is followed by Tashi Wangdu at 10% and Lukar Jam at 6%. However, 21% of the eligible Tibetan voters are still "Undecided" which could mean any of the top 2 nominee could win the preliminary election on October 18, 2015.

However, if you look at the nomination by country of residence, Lobsang Sangay, Penpa Tsering and Tashi Wangdu has received their largest share of nominations from India and North America.  Eligible Tibetan voters in India and North America will be the deciding factor in terms of who wins the preliminary election as these two holds the largest concentration of eligible voters (if we disregard Nepal where an election may not be allowed). Looking at this statistic, any of the top three could win the preliminary election.

Also, among the "Undecided" category, 42% of participants from India and 33% from North America could be waiting for a public debate among candidates to help decide their choice of 2016 Sikyong's candidate. Therefore, 2016 Sikyong's candidate should make an effort to win these "undecided" and "others" eligible voters.  They could be the swing voters who could decide who wins the preliminary election.

Participate Now

If you are an eligible Tibetan voter and has not yet participated in this nomination survey for 2016 Sikyong's candidate, please do so before the survey closes on August 10, 2015.  Here is the link to participate http://goo.gl/forms/NhDqBGPkVS.

In the mid of August, the survey administrator will launch an Online Opinion Poll for the 2016 Sikyong's preliminary election.  Stay tuned.


Limitations

Online surveys are not without limitations. Some of the limitations of this online nomination survey are:

1. Nominations of eligible Tibetan voters with no computer and English language skills were excluded from the study.
2. With no available features of one-time participatory settings on Google Form, a participant could have shared more than one nominations.
3. With Tibetan electorates spread across the world, it was not possible to adopt a good sampling technique. Therefore, the study’s finding cannot be termed as statistically significant.
4. Finally, due to the low rate of survey participants, the generalization of study’s findings is limited.



Also read: