The Dalai Lama: A year after devolving political authority

May 28th, 2012 - 12:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bodh Gaya Dharamsala, May 28 (IANS) “He’s my boss,” the Dalai Lama said last week of Tibetian Prime Minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay, adding: “Although, when it comes to spiritual affairs, I’m still his boss.”

He made the remark while introducing Sangay, democratically elected to the office last year, to the press in Austrian capital Vienna.

“This young man was born in India, but completed his education at Harvard University,” he said.

“Since the Tibetan prime minister was first elected in 2001, I have been semi-retired. But after Lobsang Sangay was elected last year, I thought the time was right. So I retired completely and handed my political responsibilities to him,” he added.

The 76-year-old Dalai Lama’s journey to shed political and administrative powers began May 29 last year when he signed a legislative measure after over two months of deliberations by the exiles.

Most of the powers now rest with 43-year-old Sangay.

Central Tibetan Administration officials in this northern Indian hill station said the signing of the charter brought to an end a 369-year-old tradition of the Dalai Lamas holding both spiritual and temporal powers.

The Dalai Lama, while addressing the sixth World Parliamentarians’ Convention on Tibet in the Canadian capital of Ottawa April 27, said the 14th Dalai Lama had ended a tradition established by the fifth Dalai Lama.

Addressing the participants, he said although he had the same face as during the last convention, this time, he no longer had the temporal responsibility.

Tibet, he said, did not belong to the Dalai Lama but to the six-million Tibetans.

Pointing to Sangay and Tibetan Parliament Speaker Penpa Tsering, who were on the stage, he said: “They are both from the new generation, having been born and educated in India”.

He said he was now devoting his time to his two commitments - promotion of values and religious harmony.

On devolving political authority, he said in Chicago April 26 that ever since his childhood, he had witnessed drawbacks in the Tibetan administrative system.

He said that soon after he had assumed temporal authority in 1951, he had to leave for the Dromo region in Tibet. After his return in 1952, he started reforms. However, due to the attitude of the Chinese officials in Lhasa, his efforts could not progress. The Chinese wanted the changes to take place the way they wanted, he said.

After arriving in India’s Mussoorie town as an exile in April 1959, he was able to reorganise the administrative system, including the establishment of new departments, like that of education, he said. In 1960, after a meeting in Bodh Gaya (Bihar), the democratic institutions began to take shape, he added.

“In 2001, we had the direct election of the Kalon Tripa (prime minister) and following the two terms of Samdhong Rinpoche. The enthusiasm of the Tibetan people in the election process made me decide that I should go for the devolution of his political authority to the new Kalon Tripa and have complete retirement,” he said.

The Dalai Lama believes that he will see Tibet again.

“I think at a practical level, my health is quite good. So I’m expecting another 10-20 years. So within that period, definitely things will change,” he told the BBC Radio in an interview this month.

Later, on his hopes about Tibet, he said in Vienna: “Observing the power of truth compared to the power of the gun for over 50 years, it seems that in the short term the gun may prevail, but in the long run the power of truth is much stronger.”

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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