Dalai Lama must reconsider, say young Tibetans

Dalai Lama must reconsider, say young Tibetans

Youngsters, in particular, are upset and say there is no one capable of replacing him. It is in Dharamsala that the Tibetan government-in-exile is based and it is here that the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, announced the decision to retire from his political role Thursday.

"We have grown up seeing him fighting a long drawn battle for Tibet's rightful place in the world's geopolitics. His decision has come as a big shock to many like me. He should have stayed on, he has become the face of our struggle the world over," Lopchen Dorjee, a student of Tibetan medicine and a local resident, told IANS.

"I want him to continue to lead us and show us the light of freedom. I don't find any leader who is capable enough to fill in his shoes. His departure is going to create a big void that will take years to be filled," added Dorjee.

The Dalai Lama, who turns 76 July this year, Thursday announced his decision to retire and devolve his "formal authority" to an elected leader while staying committed to the cause of Tibet.

"The Dalai Lama in his speech said that he wanted a new leadership to take over and more transparency in the government's functioning. I think that is not what the Tibetans or the believers in liberty are worried about. It is the Tibetans' decades old struggle for self-identity that's the real issue. If the country needs him, the retirement plans can be shelved," Tsering Gurume, another student, told IANS.

"We will still try to convince him to give it a second thought before his official statement in parliament March 14. We will garner support on websites, Facebook to ask His Holiness to stay on," she added.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after Chinese occupation of Tibet. Nearly 100,000 Tibetans live in exile in India.

The majority of the young Tibetans have been born and brought up in India and have never been to Tibet. Yet their yearning for getting back to their homeland has never subsided.

Penpa Labdong, a local trader who deals in woollen garments, said: "It is a big decision of His Holiness and would certainly affect the ongoing struggle for our autonomy. Dalai Lama is spearheading our struggle and I do not know that whether we have another competent person to fill his space."

"We really do not want him to step down. We always want his guidance and enlightenment," stated Labdong.

Mcleodganj, a suburb situated near Dharamsala town in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, is one of the prominent tourist destinations of India. Nearly 25,000 Tibetans live here in exile.

"Though we respect his decision, he must reconsider. He had won the Nobel peace prize for his efforts and that had given his voice a lot of weight the world over. A few more years of activism by His Holiness would have created a strong support for the great cause," George Lockhart, a Canadian tourist and follower of Tibetan Buddhism, told IANS.

"I wonder now whether the government-in-exile would have a legitimate face in his absence. The Tibetan prime minister has himself admitted that a crisis situation looms over the Tibetan government-in-exile as he has been the face of the government for ages," said Lockhart.

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