This article is not about Tibet and China. It is not about Rangzen and Umaylam, nor is it about democracy or free speech strangulation in exile Tibetan world. So any questions you, the reader, might have regarding these topics can be put aside for now. This is a call to the people of Utsang to wake up: The primary 2016 Sikyong election is knocking our door.
2016 Utsang Political Humiliation
Before I go further, we Utsangs must first seriously ask ourselves a few questions. Do we Utsangs have an iota of pride in who we are and where we came from? Do we have some sense of self-respect? Are we again going to fall apart and fall for Lobsang Sangay’s cute words and hollow promises? Our ancestors were the Tsenpo warrior kings like Songtsen Gampo who not only unified the warring tribes of the roof of the world as one nation but also conquered the neighboring nations including China in the east and India in the west and Persia in the north to Burma in the south. Tsenpo empire is today part of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
It required not just matrimonial alliance and other soft power but raw physical bravery, moral courage, and political competence to use force to bring about unity on a large scale. The Persian and the Chinese records support this assertion. In recent history also Utsang men fought to death the invasions of Mongols, Dogra Singhs from Kashmir, Sultans, Bhutanese, Gurkhas, British, Manchus and the Chinese. This is our proud militant past.
But where are we Utsangs now? Are we hiding under some rocks? If not, then where do we Utsangs stand today politically? We Utsangs easily make 70% of the exile Tibetan population and yet we failed Tenzin Tethong in 2011 Sikyong election. This is not to say just because a candidate is Utsang he automatically deserves our votes. Tashi Topyal is from Utsang but he won’t get my vote because I see not much substance in him. However, I commend his courage to stand up for the Sikyong election. Competence precedes provincialism. Justness precedes regionalism. But when a competent and just Utsang stands up, our Utsang people should stand up too as one to support and vote him.
The Sikyong election is not only about serving the interests of Tibetans as a whole but it is also about provincial pride and recognition. Let’s face it. Everyone has an agenda no matter how truthful and just one may project oneself out. It could be a craving for a ministerial post or a deep sense of personal satisfaction for doing the right thing. Well, failure to throw in the ring our just one competent Utsang politician is a kick to the gut of Utsang dignity.
When the Dalai Lama semi-retired in 2001, exile Tibetans had the first public voting opportunity. There were only two candidates. Samdhong Lama and Juchen Thupten. None of them were Utsang. Then in 2006 two candidates stood for the Sikyong election. Samdhong Lama and Juchen. Not one was a Utsang. On my asking a few Utsang politicians at the time if they were willing to stand up for the post and what I discovered shocked me to this day.
They were so scared of even dreaming to stand up for the post let alone leading the people. Again this time 2016 not one Utsang of substance fought for Sikyong election. This is unbelievable. Is this not an embarrassment to our Utsang psyche? It is indeed a shame that the largest population could not produce a single candidate let alone win the Sikyong election among just 3, not 100 provinces. If this is not a humiliating blow to our Utsang pride, then what is? We must do something before it is too late.
Timidity, our Greatest Obstacle
Considering the size of our population in exile we should, in fact, be the kingmakers! At our feet, every politician should be wagging his tail for votes. But in reality, we proved otherwise. Yes, we proved suckers. And why? We have tons of educated, competent and experienced Utsangs yet not one stood up for 3 terms out of 4. Why? It is primarily because we fail to support our own no matter how deserving he or she is. We Utsangs fail to speak up and promote our own.
Lack of pride and timidity are our greatest obstacles. Dodul Lingpa, an Utsang leader in California, spoke on audio with passion, courage and pride, both personal and regional, and it is seen by some ignorant Utsangs as a source of discord within our community. Feeble and fickle-mindedness are cancers we need to uproot from our system.
I interviewed 60 Utsangs in their late 20s and 50% of them did not know what village or valley in Tibet their parents came from. Kasur Kelsang Gyaltsen is a Utsang but he pretended to be from Dhotoe. Kasur Dhongag Tenzin is also a Utsang but he too pretended to be from Dhotoe. With Juchen’s hook, they got what they wanted, the Kalon post. To Utsangs like these, I have zero respect.
How can you respect someone who has no pride in his roots? You can change your sect but not your province. You can change your religion but not your race. You cannot become what you are not. You cannot unbecome what you are. Born Utsang, die Utsang. So build upon where you stand. Dignity begins at home.
Every time I talk in small groups about the need to steel the spine of our Utsang people or simply mention Utsang, Utsang people, especially the youth raised in India, Nepal, and Bhutan, scatter and tremble in fear with their mouth wide open, gasping for air while their faces grow pale. Their fear of being branded regionalists is ridiculous. They mistake positive regionalism for negative regionalism because they do not know the difference between the two. We can’t blame them entirely because our elders did not care to instill pride in their roots. We love to glorify timidity as humility.
When a regional situation demands a forthcoming tongue from us we look at each other and then left and right hoping somebody would speak up first and when nobody does it we go home and whine, bitch and moan. No Utsang chithue rose to speak against chithue Bawa Kelsang’s vehement objection, rather uncalled for, of a responsible question raised by Utsang chithue Dolma Tsering during last September chithue session. Bawa Kelsang, Lobsang Sangay’s phayul chikpa, can be seen on youtube, stuttering and his hands trembling with rage because Dolma’s question was directed to Sikyong Lobsang Sangay on using his official tours as a platform for an election campaign. We need bold, consistent and steadfast Utsang chithues like chithue Dolma Tsering.
And if some Utsang does speak up, we fail to support him or her. Timidity, born out of selfishness, is what I hate to see in my Utsang people. I for one will not tolerate our Utsang people degenerate into a bunch of self-interested insensitive slaves hiding under the cover of mild nature humble crap when situations demand an aggressive stance. We lack the courage to stand out and give each other social, economic, educational, political and physical support. We tremble at every movement in the wilderness of politics. We have lost the spirit of adventure that our ancestors had. We drool and faint at the sight of a single drop of blood. We fear our own shadows.
It is a pity that sons and daughters of Songtsen Gampo and Miwang Pholha have come to this. Until and unless we correct our long-held mistaken notions we will never rise up. If we allow our courage to erode further, that day is not far off when we will have left no energy to fight even for our basic rights like the right to life and the chastity of our daughters. Unless we do something now, it is very likely that our right to mention the name of our province will be regarded as a crime in the near future. So stand up to the challenge!
Courage is highly regarded across cultures and has obvious benefits for those surrounded by courageous people. Courage is broken down into four main subcategories: Bravery, Perseverance, Honesty, and Zest. Physical bravery is courage in the face of physical pain, hardship, death, or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, or discouragement. We need both. Fear can chain us all night long, but courage makes one fine chain cutter! Perseverance falls under the larger category of courage because it often involves continuing along a path in the midst of and after having faced opposition and perhaps failure.
Honesty involves integrity in all areas of one’s life and the ability to be true to oneself and one’s role in the world across circumstances. Zest or enthusiasm most often comes forth as a character strength in the midst of trying circumstances. A brave Utsang is one who rises to the occasion by staking his personal comfort, popularity, jobs, business, positions, family, limbs and life. And if he goes down he will not go down alone nor by taking a few of them with him but by taking all those directly responsible for his tragedy. This is the Utsang I want to see. A fighter to the core.
Courage is reckoned the greatest of all virtues; because, unless a man has that virtue, he has no security for preserving any other. ~Samuel Johnson
Lack of Communication
As if lack of courage (and pride) is not enough there is a total lack of communication among ourselves as a result of which our bonding collapsed. There is no communication between Utsang monks and Utsang lay. There is zero communication between shichak Utsangs and sanjor Utsangs. There is no communication between the old Utsang and the young Utsang. There is no communication between Utsang leaders and Utsang community. There is no communication among Ngaripas, Tsangpas, Topas, Kongpos, and Upas who are all unalloyed Utsangs historically, politically, geographically, administratively, linguistically and culturally for centuries. The sense of oneness is zero.
There is no communication between Utsang intellectuals and Utsang multi-millionaires whose combined effort and strategy could change our economic fate overnight. Utsang monasteries are poor as hell. For the first time in six decades, Tashi Lhunpo monastery built its first assembly hall this year. Utsang business persons are so small scale. 99% of Utsang business persons do footpath sweater business. 99% of Utsangs live in tile roof huts in the settlements in India. The poorest of the poor. When it rains, the roof leaks. At night you look up the ceiling you see stars. Rats run around through the ceiling to escape cobras in hot pursuit.
This is the cowshed 99% of Utsangs live in for the past six decades.
Educationally we have produced only 12 PhDs when we should have produced 12,000 in the past 60 years in exile. Can we really afford to sit back in quiet contentment? Think about it. Phd+Money+Ambition+Courage=Political power? And political power generates pride, economic opportunities, and other resources.
There is no communication between the super-rich Utsangs and the impoverished Utsangs. If there is any communication between or among us Utsangs it is that we skillfully pull each other’s legs at every opportunity. We trek mountains and cross oceans and dig earth to find “reasons” to bring our own down. Dhardon Sharling and Namgyal Lhagyari are attacked on social media for some social association with Lukar Gem. We are so naive and credulous to the sweet tongue of Lobsang Sangay’s supporters that we jump first to degrade our own.
We teach ourselves to despise each other. We teach ourselves to distrust each other. We chicken out, spill beans and flee at the slightest threat to our skin. And this is what we have become. A joke in the Tibetan society! But this is no laughing matter. The timidity of my people strikes at the very core of my individual being and it should that is if we have some self-respect left. The lack of communication, camaraderie, and bonding is making me throw up. And the abundance of indifference among us Utsangs is a dagger lacerating my heart with shame. Can’t we do better? Communication+Trust+action=Lasting relationship?
I am proud of being an Utsang from the lush valleys and mineral-rich mountains of Jepa District. Our ancestors created history in administration, war, religion, education, economics, and geopolitics. This is history. The richest Tibetan, Chomphe Tsering, in Tibet is an Utsang from western Tibet worth $1 billion. The richest Tibetan, a billionaire, in the diaspora is an Utsang from Shigatse in Canada. His family earned their wealth through sheer hard work and business skill. The richest Tibetan in Nepal is a Utsang from Nyenam.
My late father Tsering Rhichoe, 67 in 2003, had slain 5 bad guys in 5 separate duels in old Tibet. Loved it as a kid, love it now no less.
Nyimo nun was a Utsang from Tsang who jolted 18 Utsang districts to fight to the death for freedom in the late 60s. Mila Repa and Thangthong Gyalpo are Utsang from Toe and their legacy continues to this day. Utsang men practice kindness, understanding, and compassion to the best they can but when cornered they are second to none fighters. I witnessed that in my father, uncles, and brothers and in myself.
Jepa Valleys, my phayul, in Utsang
There are a thousand and one reasons why I am proud of being an Utsang but I keep most of these to myself. I fought two foreign wars in three operations without blinking an eye once and got shot at. After all, we Utsangs are not cattle to contend with some grass and water. We are meat eaters. Our ancestors were wolves-the apex predators on the Tibetan plateau. But today after centuries of Lamaism, serfdom, poverty, and humility we have become lambs. Disconnected from dangers for so long through surrender and therefore lacking the necessary experience of courage to confront it has produced a culture of lambs. And lambs pay the heaviest price. They get slaughtered and eaten up.
This race of chickens, rats, goats, and sheep must either be exterminated or turned into roaring tigers that catches its preys and feeds its cubs and trains them to follow the footsteps of their worthy parents. Remember, we are Utsangs with a proud history. And we shall live and endeavor to revive our pride and uphold it for our future generations so they don’t have to go hiding their head and their origin in shame.
The first step to succeed in life is to acknowledge a deficiency in a particular area of interest. This time we failed ourselves by not being able to produce one worthy Sikyong candidate but not in the future. Not anymore! To ensure a steady line of competent and just Sikyong candidates from Utsang in the future let us not wait until the last minute.
Let us start now by grooming DHARDON SHARLING for 2021 and NAMGYAL LHAGYARI- a direct descendent of Songtsen Gampo- with due recognition from the Dalai Lama, for 2026 but first and for now vote none other than chithue tsoktso Penpa Tsering as 2016 Sikyong! Our objective is to win only 51% of the votes.
We voted for Lobsang Sangay so he could bring about a positive change but he brought no change. He lies between his teeth and he gets away with that. His cute jokes fool people. His deceit kills. Read PART I of this piece, where his lies are death with, under the heading Why I will vote Amdo warrior Penpa Tsering for 2016 Sikyong We must stop looking the other way if we have some conscience left in our beings. Unless we do something now it is likely that our Utsang people in the future will end up as cooks, drivers, and sweepers in offices that CTA has its hands on. The prestige of Utsang people is indeed at stake.
Around 70% of Utsang voted for Lobsang Sangay in Oct 2015. The age range of the majority of these voters is between 18 to 35 and 60+. The former is young and inexperienced. The latter is unschooled and naive. Both are equally ignorant of our domestic politics. Our domestic politics is driven by provincial, regional and sectarian affiliations. These two groups are therefore the most gullible of our people. They need an awakening from a caring heart and it is here I step in where other Utsangs dread to even think of treading. Sound off! Utsangs for Penpa Tsering!
Tribalism–the key Strategy for Utsang Bonding, Solidarity, and Unity
I do not intend to sound preachy but for those who do not get it metaphorically let me tug at your heart with tips, facts, and pieces of advice. I suggest Utsang Centex take the following actions at the soonest possible. Build Regional Utsang Associations in every place on this planet where Utsangs reside. Each RUA will have 11 executive members. It will help Utsangs in need of supporting letter for RC in India or asylum in the west and many more. Organize regional Utsang parties and picnics once a year. Organize a 3-day grand annual Utsang get together where influential Utsang leaders, lay or lama will give inspirational guidance. This will light the path to Utsang pride and courage. Admission is strictly for Utsangs with Utsang IDs.
What is in store for Utsangs?
Utsang positive provincialism is helping ourselves and our own economically, educationally, politically, socially and if necessary physically. This is what we must adopt now and forever. Negative regionalism is putting down others belonging to another region or province out of jealousy and hatred and without any apparent justification. Negative regionalism is denying the government benefits of jobs, positions, aid or economic and educational opportunities to those who simply belong to another region or province. This we must discard. But we must fight back and fight back with a vengeance when others be they Khampas or Amdos meet this injustice to us Utsangs. No amount of humility or tolerance will prevent this kind of bias, favoritism and negative regionalism go away.
No amount of “we Tibetan brothers or same race” talk by the Dalai Lama or anyone for that matter should dissuade us from striking back at those who wrong us. Under such pseudo-reasoning we have taken shit for six long decades. But not anymore! We have finally woken up! And the least we can do is come out and speak with our votes. Hiding in a corner in self-pity and wallowing in inferiority complex will not help us regain our dignity. It is harmful to you and your children’s mental and emotional health. It eats up the immune system.
With the right Utsang communication that meets Utsang needs, Utsang camaraderie, bonding and unity will grow strong. Create an online Utsang database where we have basic information about pure Utsangs. 25,000 Utsangs reside in the west. $20 or equivalent per person or $100 per family yearly contribution to the Utsang Association Centrex should be enforced. This system alone fetches $500,000 per year. Utsang online Donate system should be in place. As a first step 1000 Utsangs from the west will donate $1000 per person one time to create $1 million Utsang seed funding.
The Utsang Centex will put this money and annual contributions in two non-sister Indian banks as a fixed deposit earning an interest of 10% or more annually. Gamble with the eggs, not with the hen that delivers eggs every day. Interest earned will be used to: –
- grant interest-free loans to small-scale Utsang business persons.
grant scholarship to needy Utsang students.
For e.g. Rs 3 lac per year for a BA student, Rs 4 lac per year for an MA student and Rs 5 lac per year for a Ph.D. student. This good money is to get poor Utsang families to push their children to get paid for going to school and eventually to ensure every future Utsang is a Ph.D.
- provide nursing homes to the elders.
- provide full medical, dental and vision insurances and Rs 1 crore life insurance to every Utsang.
- provide concrete housing, a big motorcycle, a car and Rs 1 crore fixed deposit to those living in tile roof huts and also to the newly married.
- To increase our population and to encourage families to produce more good gene children, Rs 20 lacs per child will be gifted.
- Those with the bad gene will be gifted Rs 20 lacs per individual to go through the sterilization process.
- To improve our gene pool, the best genes around the world will be bought from sperm banks. Each good gene Utsang wife will birth one foreign good gene child. Genetic regression will be curbed from time to time. Utsang monks and nuns better start getting married. Our population is shrinking for the past 13 centuries.
By the way, Chithue Dawa Tsering is the best Utsang President we have. No Utsang leader suffered Khampa dhadhagiri like he did. He has every reason to stand his ground. Under his leadership, Utsang get together were organized and Utsang bonding is growing by the day especially in Dharmsala. He built an Utsang Community Hall and a five-story guest house. He is always available for any Utsangs in need of help. One of the reasons that provoked him to build this guest house is that for years Kailash hotel (owned by a Khampa) and Tsongkha hotel (owned by an Amdo) in McLeod Ganj would refuse to lease it to anyone Utsang. They would lease it only to their own tribes. Such is their deep-seated regionalism.
The Dharamsala Utsang Community Center is to give weekly 2-hour political education on Sunday evening by eminent Utsang scholars, professors, and bureaucrats. Admission is strictly for Utsangs. Utsangs 70 years old or older will burn themselves, one dozen at a time, to death before the United Nations and in the western capitals to pressure the western leadership and also to show solidarity to those who burnt themselves to death for freedom in Tibet. Strike a deal with the legal Utsang visa brokers and get 10,000 Utsang families from India to the west particularly US in the next 5 years.
To promote Utsang interests, establish Utsang newspaper (Tibet Week), Utsang TV news UNN, and Utsang radio UBC. Tibettimes is run by Amdos and Tibetexpress is run by Dhotoes for two decades now. We are so behind that after 6 decades in exile we are finally talking about the necessity of a media owned and run solely by Utsangs. The political humiliation felt by many Utsangs this time around is a blessing in disguise indeed.
Our elders were so wrong in adopting a passive approach to our ills for so long. It is a shame that our educated elders did not take the initiative to rouse Utsangs from a deep slumber and today my generation of Utsangs is paying the price. No Utsang Regional Associations for the past six decades? That’s fucked up. The best channel of communication left ignored for so long. Unbelievable. Create Utsang ID, Utsang website in English. There is one in Tibetan. Thank God! But improve upon it.
To promote Utsang, use names such as Utsang Momo, Utsang Restaurant, Utsang Hotel, Utsang School, Utsang University, Utsang Enterprises and Utsang Corporations Limited. Also, go and be their customers to help them grow rich and richer. Doing so enriches our own community in the long run.
Create Utsang email group, Utsang text message group, Utsang Facebook, Utsang Twitter, and Utsang YouTube. Get it official with support from UTSANG CENTREX. Hire 2 full-time staff for each medium to keep them active through the coming years. Host Miss Utsang, Mr. Utsang and Utsang fashion show. Create a Utsang parliament with 5 MLAs each from Ngari, Tsang, Toe, U and Kongpo. Build $1 billion Utsang economic support system. Use imagination. The right women and the left brain. This is not only possible but absolutely probable.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for us to make sure Penpa Tsering beats Lobsang Sangay this time. If beaten, Lobsang Sangay might not show up in 2021 otherwise he will most likely show up for the third term after manipulating new parliamentary resolutions. If defeated this time Lobsang Sangay will probably be absorbed elsewhere. This is good. Penpa Tsering, unlike Lobsang Sangay, has no cult following which makes it easy for Dhardon Sharling to crush him in 2021 Sikyong election. Gyari Dolma might show up in 2021 but Dhardon Sharling with our one-pointed support will beat her to a pulp. This will make the path smoother for Namgyal Lhagyari to walk on in 2026 or 2031. You see what I mean?
By pure Utsangs I mean:-
- Utsangs, whether they are Ngaripas or Toepas or Tsangpas or Upas or Kongpos, are happy and proud of being Utsangs.
- Utsangs who are fiercely loyal and dedicated to anything or anyone Utsang.
- Utsangs who are courageous, and brave dangers, threats, and hardships for the sake of Utsang and its people.
- Utsangs who are intelligent enough to detect Khampa regionalism in our everyday domestic politics and act accordingly
- Utsangs who are confident that we can beat tribalism with tribalism, intimidation with intimidation, death threats with death threats and violence with violence
- Utsangs who are by blood (both parents) and by history Utsangs.
- Utsangs who believe that when it comes to domestic politics we Utsangs should always be at the top of food chain
- Utsangs who will not let go Utsang interests in the name of unity and harmony
- Utsangs whose resolution will not undergo changes because a high lama sheds tears saying that it is not right
- Utsangs who, no matter what, help each other economically, socially and politically
- Utsangs who indoctrinate tribalism in our children so they grow united, happy, proud, brave, intelligent and confident of their strength. Without a weapon such as tribalism, we are bound to continue to lose against those who have a culture of tribalism.
- We quit tribalism for ten centuries. It was not important at the time because we were mainly ruling ourselves. But for the past six decades in exile, the struggle for power is among, not one, but three regions. So the time to reintroduce tribalism in our genes is now. If you agree with this, then you are a hardcore Utsang that our tribe needs.
- Utsangs who do not develop Stockholm syndrome to those who urinate in their mouth.
- Utsangs who refuse to remain over cautious or quiet when a regional situation demands him or her to speak up.
- Utsangs who would vote for Dhardon Sharling in 2021 Sikyong election.
If you want a dedicated and competent Utsang politician to succeed as Sikyong, you can’t wait for the world to give him or her attention the way a homeless cripple waits for food on a sidewalk. You have to be a warrior. You have to fight, promote and protect your choice and interests with a madness of a mother whose child is surrounded by an army of hungry predators. The dawn of UTSANG RISING is not far off. Matter of fact It’s right here and now! It calls for a bit of courage, determination, and strategy though. It calls for the revival of Utsang martial spirit. The tsenpo warrior spirit! I can lead you under this organization, SONGSTEN WARRIORS. It’s a war on a thousand fronts. Are you with me?
Sikyong post is a launchpad for your ideas about a just and fair Sikyong and you the Utsang voters are the rocket fuel that lifts him/her off the ground.
So burn it up, my tribesmen.
Your votes are counting on you.
P.S. This post was first published in March 2016.