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Posted on on April 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (




Credit Scott Menchin



WHAT can Washington, D.C., learn from a Buddhist monk?

Arthur C. Burns writes: In early 2013, I traveled with two colleagues to Dharamsala, India, to meet with the Dalai Lama. His Holiness has lived there since being driven from his Tibetan homeland by the Chinese government in 1959. From his outpost in the Himalayan foothills, he anchored the Tibetan government until 2011 and continues to serve as a spiritual shepherd for hundreds of millions of people, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike.

Very early one morning during the visit, I was invited to meditate with the monks. About an hour had passed when hunger pangs began, but I worked hard to ignore them. It seemed to me that such earthly concerns had no place in the superconscious atmosphere of the monastery.

Incorrect. Not a minute later, a basket of freshly baked bread made its way down the silent line, followed by a jar of peanut butter with a single knife. We ate breakfast in silence, and resumed our meditation. This, I soon learned, is the Dalai Lama in a nutshell: transcendence and pragmatism together. Higher consciousness and utter practicality rolled into one.

That same duality was on display in February when the Dalai Lama joined a two-day summit at my institution, the American Enterprise Institute. At first, his visit caused confusion. Some people couldn’t imagine why he would visit us; as Vanity Fair asked in a headline, “Why Was the Dalai Lama Hanging Out with the Right-Wing American Enterprise Institute?”

There was no dissonance, though, because the Dalai Lama’s teaching defies freighted ideological labels. During our discussions, he returned over and over to two practical yet transcendent points.

First, his secret to human flourishing is the development of every individual.
In his own words: “Where does a happy world start?
From government? No.
From United Nations? No.
From individual.”

But his second message made it abundantly clear that he did not advocate an every-man-for-himself economy.

He insisted that while free enterprise could be a blessing, it was not guaranteed to be so.

Markets are instrumental, not intrinsic, for human flourishing.

As with any tool, wielding capitalism for good requires deep moral awareness.

Only activities motivated by a concern for others’ well-being, he declared, could be truly “constructive.”

Tibetan Buddhists actually count wealth among the four factors in a happy life, along with worldly satisfaction, spirituality and enlightenment.

Money per se is not evil. For the Dalai Lama, the key question is whether “we utilize our favorable circumstances, such as our good health or wealth, in positive ways, in helping others.”

There is much for Americans to absorb here.

Advocates of free enterprise must remember that the system’s moral core is neither profits nor efficiency. It is creating opportunity for individuals who need it the most.

Historically, free enterprise has done this to astonishing effect. In a remarkable paper, Maxim Pinkovskiy of M.I.T. and Xavier Sala-i-Martin of Columbia University calculate that the fraction of the world’s population living on a dollar a day — after adjusting for inflation — plummeted by 80 percent between 1970 and 2006. This is history’s greatest antipoverty achievement.

But while free enterprise keeps expanding globally, its success may be faltering in the United States. According to research from Pew’s Economic Mobility Project, men in their 30s in 2004 were earning 12 percent less in real terms than their fathers’ generation at the same point in their lives. That was before the financial crisis, the Great Recession, and years of federal policies that have done a great deal for the wealthy and well-connected but little to lift up the bottom half.

The solution does not lie in the dubious “fair share” class-baiting of politicians. We need to combine an effective, reliable safety net for the poor with a hard look at modern barriers to upward mobility. That means attacking cronyism that protects the well-connected. It means lifting poor children out of ineffective schools that leave them unable to compete. It entails pruning back outmoded licensing laws that restrain low-income entrepreneurs. And it means creating real solutions — not just proposing market distortions — for people who cannot find jobs that pay enough to support their families.

In other words, Washington needs to be more like the Dalai Lama. Without abandoning principles, we need practical policies based on moral empathy. Tackling these issues may offend entrenched interests, but this is immaterial. It must be done. And temporary political discomfort pales in comparison with the suffering that vulnerable people bear every day.

At one point in our summit, I deviated from the suffering of the poor and queried the Dalai Lama about discomfort in his own life. “Your Holiness,” I asked, “what gives you suffering?” I expected something quotably profound, perhaps about the loss of his homeland. Instead, he thought for a moment, loosened his maroon robe slightly, and once again married the practical with the rhapsodic.

“Right now,” he said, “I am a little hot.”




Arthur C. Brooks, a contributing opinion writer, is the president of the American Enterprise Institute.



Posted on on June 29th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (

Op-Ed Contributor of the New York Times

Bhutan Is No Shangri-La

Published: June 28, 2013

DAMAK, Nepal — BEFORE my family was expelled from Bhutan, in 1992, I lived with my parents and seven siblings in the south of the country. This region is the most fertile part of that tiny kingdom perched between Tibet and India, a tapestry of mountains, plains and alpine meadows. Our house sat in a small village, on terraced land flourishing with maize, millet and buckwheat, a cardamom garden, beehives and enough pasture for cows, oxen, sheep and buffaloes. That was the only home we had known.

After tightening its citizenship laws in the mid-1980s, Bhutan conducted a special census in the south and then proceeded to cast out nearly 100,000 people — about one-sixth of its population, nearly all of them of Nepalese origin, including my family. It declared us illegal immigrants, even though many of us went back several generations in Bhutan. It hasn’t let any of us move back.

The enormity of this exodus, one of the world’s largest by proportion, given the country’s small population, has been overlooked by an international community that is either indifferent or beguiled by the government-sponsored images of Bhutan as a serene Buddhist Shangri-La, an image advanced by the policy of “gross national happiness,” coined by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in the 1970s.

Bhutan even helped inspire the United Nations last year to declare March 20 the International Day of Happiness — a cruel irony to those of us who were made stateless by the king, who was an absolute monarch when we were expelled.

Many of our ancestors were recruited from Nepal in the mid-19th century to cultivate the arable land of southern Bhutan. We are known as Lhotshampa — literally, people of the south. The Drukpas, the Buddhist elite, and the Hindu Lhotshampa had coexisted, largely in peace, until 1989, when the king introduced a “One Nation, One People” policy imposing Drukpa social norms on everyone. The edict controlled the smallest details of our public lives: how we ate, dressed and talked. The Nepali language was banned in schools, and Hindu pathshalas, or seminaries, which teach the Sanskrit scriptures, were closed.

Protests demanding an end to the absolute monarchy and persecution of the Lhotshampa beginning in summer 1990 were quashed, and repression — including torture, sexual assault, evictions and discriminatory firing — intensified. As part of the government’s campaign of intimidation in the south, my school was suddenly closed. That day, the headmaster summoned us to an assembly, announced that we were to collect our belongings and told us to go home at once. I passed my final months in Bhutan not completing the fourth grade, but helping to rear our animals.

One winter day in 1991, my mother was in the kitchen, my father was shaving and my siblings and I were gathered for snacks. It must have been noon — I remember the buzzing of bees leaving for their routine forage — when uniformed officers burst into the house and seized our citizenship documents, birth certificates and other papers. They accused my father of waging war against the government. They ordered him to put on his bakkhu, the Drukpa national outfit, which was still wet from the wash that morning, and then dragged him out, kicking him and slapping his face. He was taken with dozens of our neighbors to a high school that had been converted to a military camp.

My father was held for 91 days in a small, dank cell. They pressed him down with heavy logs, pierced his fingers with needles, served him urine instead of water, forced him to chop firewood all day with no food. Sometimes, they burned dried chilies in his cell just to make breathing unbearable. He agreed eventually to sign what were called voluntary migration forms and was given a week to leave the country our family had inhabited for four generations.

Not knowing when we’d be back, we set our animals free and left open the doors and windows of the house. We walked in spring showers to the border with India, through forest and valleys. At the border, the Indians, who wanted nothing to do with us, piled us into trucks and dumped us at the doorstep of Nepal.

We were among the 90,000 Bhutanese refugees who flooded shelters in eastern Nepal at that time. The population grew to more than 115,000, as people kept trickling in and children were born. My parents, a brother and I have called these shelters our home for 21 years.

The original seven refugee camps have shrunk to two, but almost 36,000 people continue to live in misery here. More than 80,000 have been resettled in other countries; 68,000, including my wife, most of my siblings and extended family, have moved to the United States. I expect to be able to join them very soon.

Helping us, though, is not the same as helping our cause: every refugee who is resettled eases the pressure on the Bhutanese government to take responsibility for, and eventually welcome back, the population it displaced.

Bhutan became a constitutional monarchy in 2008, two years after King Jigme Singye Wangchuck abdicated the throne to his eldest son. To live up to its promises of democracy and its reputation as a purveyor of happiness, the government must extend full civil rights — including citizenship and the right to vote — to all of the Lhotshampa still in its borders. It also must allow those Lhotshampa it expelled to return.

Instead, Bhutan has steadfastly ignored our demands; multiple rounds of talks between Bhutan and Nepal over the status of the Lhotshampa have yielded little progress.

The international community can no longer turn a blind eye to this calamity. The United Nations must insist that Bhutan, a member state, honor its convention on refugees, including respecting our right to return.

Other countries bear responsibility, too. Nepal, impoverished and internally divided, is already home to large numbers of Tibetan refugees and other stateless peoples, and has not welcomed the Lhotshampa, even though we share an ancestry. Nor has it adequately sought help from other countries to manage its refugee problem. India should use its influence to pressure Bhutan to do the right thing; it should then reopen the roads it created to accommodate the exodus of refugees — but this time to allow our safe return.

But until the world looks behind the veil of the Shangri-La, I have no hope of retracing my path home.


Vidhyapati Mishra is the managing editor of Bhutan News Service, a news service for Bhutanese refugees. He wrote this essay from the Beldangi II refugee camp.


Posted on on March 31st, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (…

SHIMLA: To study the impact of global warming on melting of glaciers and environment in general, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has decided to set up an observatory at Kothi near the 13,050-feet-high Rohtang Pass.

Scientists would be studying the behavior of aerosols, glaciers and back carbon aerosols at the poplar mountain tourist spot. With thousands of vehicles passing through Rohtang, especially during peak tourist season, on a daily basis, the white snow cover turns black due to carbon emission from vehicles. Increased quantity of black carbon aerosols in the atmosphere is absorbing more heat, due to which incoming solar radiation is being absorbed more and not reflected accordingly, resulting into faster melting of glaciers.

J C Kuniyal, senior scientist at G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Mohal, who is associated with the project, said that setting up of an observatory would help in collecting data that would be helpful for the preservation of glaciers and to know the rise in temperature due to global warming.

Kuniyal said with the setting up of an observatory at Kothing or Gulaba near Rohtang, study would be done to know how fast the glaciers were melting. He said data collected would also be used to study presence of aerosols in the atmosphere and its relative impact on the environment. He added that villagers would be approached to get the required land to set up the observatory in open space as the project would be carried on for a minimum three-year period.

Apart from setting up an Isro observatory, a weather tower would also be set up at Kothi or Gulaba village to have better weather forecasting and to study the presence of aerosols in atmosphere in connection with climate change. Earlier plans to have a tower near Rohtang failed as villagers had refused to part with their land, after which weather tower was set up at Mohal.

Now another tower would be set up near Rohtang under a Union government project to set up weather towers in the Himalayan region of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand. As these towers would get energy from solar panels, and collection of data from inaccessible areas would become much easier.

Kuniyal said data collected from the centre would also help the Union government frame environment policies accordingly, besides helping local people and other stakeholders including defence personnel.


Posted on on October 29th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Background of the Founding of the Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra: The Orchestra is part of the The New York based Shen Yun Performing Arts established in 2006 following the 2001 founded NTD – New Tang Dynasty TV project. These are projects in which the Vhinese -American Communittee reaserts itself.   Shen Yun started as a display of traditional Chinese dance accompanied by Chinese music. Out Of the music groups of the Shen Yun now grew the full fledged Symphony Orchestra.

ABOUT NTD AS TOLD BY NTD: Headquartered in New York City, New Tang Dynasty (NTD) Television serves more than 100 million potential viewers globally. NTD’s flagship news lineup strives to provide insightful coverage of China with the highest ethical standards of Western journalism.

NTD broadcasts directly into parts of Mainland China, in Chinese, via satellite, providing truthful information about China and the world – an uncensored alternative to China’s state-run, and state-slanted, media.

NTD’s cultural programs and Global Competition Series also aim to revive traditional culture undermined by communist rule.  Through web, iNTD mobile application, satellite, cable channels and anti-censorship iPPOTV, NTD deliveries diversified content  anywhere around the world.

I was told further  that NTD was established in 2001 following the reality that in China there was a good feeling about the 9/11 attack – this because it was viewed as an effort to show that the US is not omnipotent. It was a group of Chinese-Americans with means, Falun Gong practitioners, that sponsored the establishing of this TV Channel in order to create a focal source to tell the people of China world realities.

Since its founding, NTD has expanded to include English, Spanish, Japanese, French, and a few other language editions. Its content offerings include news and analysis, arts and culture, travel, entertainment news, health and lifestyle, and children’ programming.

The station’s critical reporting on the Communist Party of China has prompted censorship by China and alleged interference with its reporting and business operations by the Chinese Government.

NTD began broadcasting via satellite in North America in February 2002, and expanded its audience into mainland China in April 2004. At present, the station’s satellite coverage reaches Asia and Europe. It used to operate also via Australia but this has been stopped. The name is after the Tang Dynasty (June 18, 618 – October 8, 690 and March 3, 705 – June 1, 907).

EPOCH TIMES is the print and internet media connected to NTD TV. Their website says: Having witnessed events like Tiananmen Square and the persecution of the spiritual group Falun Gong, and at a great risk to themselves and their loved ones, a group of Chinese-Americans started publishing The Epoch Times in the Chinese language in the U.S. Some reporters in China were jailed, and some suffered severe torture.

Integrity and truthfulness in reporting, together with the stories that really matter, are cornerstones to The Epoch Times.

The first newspaper was published in New York in May 2000, with the web launch in August 2000. Local editions published by regional bureaus soon followed, making it the largest of any Chinese-language newspaper outside of Mainland China and Taiwan. Thus the Chinese original paper pre-dates the establishing of the NTD TV, but the English version was started at the same time as NTD TV.

The first English edition launched online in 2003 followed by the first print edition in 2004. The Epoch Times staff has an unwavering commitment to objective reporting and socially responsible business practices, as well as respect for human rights and freedom. From our own website and media experience, we noted Epoch Times as it started out in New York because it had an excellent Environmental page. Later we learned that Epoch Times could not get a UN Media accreditation because of China objection.

Today, The Epoch Times publishes in 35 countries and in 19 languagesin 35 countries across five continents. These include print and web editions in Chinese, English, German, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Russian, Japanese, Korean and Indonesian, as well as web versions in Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Czech, Slovak, Vietnamese, Swedish, Turkish, and Portuguese.

The Tang Dynasty, with its capital at Chang’an (present-day Xi’an), which at the time was the most populous city in the world, is generally regarded as a high point in Chinese civilization—equal to, or surpassing that of, the earlier Han Dynasty—a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Its territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivalled that of the Han Dynasty. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records estimated the population by number of registered households at about 50 million people.
Under the Tangs China was multi-religious – with Religions – Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion.
China under the Tang Dynasty (teal) circa 700 AD, Tibet was not part of Tang China!

Falun Gong or Falun Dafa (literally means “Dharma Wheel Practice“) is a spiritual discipline first introduced in China in 1992 through public lectures by its founder, Li Hongzhi. It combines the practice of meditation and slow-moving qigong exercises with a moral philosophy. Falun Gong emphasizes morality and the cultivation of virtue in its central tenets of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance, and identifies as a qigong practice of the Buddhist school, though its teachings also incorporate elements drawn from Taoist traditions. Through moral rectitude and the practice of meditation, practitioners of Falun Gong aspire to better health and, ultimately, spiritual enlightenment.

Falun Gong emerged at the end of China’s “qigong boom”—a period which saw the proliferation of similar practices of meditation, slow-moving exercises and regulated breathing. It differs from other qigong schools in its absence of fees or formal membership, lack of daily rituals of worship, its greater emphasis on morality, and the theological nature of its teachings. Western academics have described Falun Gong as a qigong discipline, a “spiritual movement” based on the teachings of its founder, a “cultivation system” in the tradition of Chinese antiquity, and sometimes a religion or new religious movement.

Although the practice initially enjoyed considerable support from Chinese officialdom, by the mid- to late-1990s, the Communist Party and public security organs increasingly viewed Falun Gong as a potential threat due to its size, independence from the state, and spiritual teachings. By 1999, some estimates placed the number of Falun Gong adherents in the tens of millions.

On 20 July 1999, after three years of mounting tensions between the Falun Gong group in China and the Chinese government, the Communist Party leadership initiated a nationwide crackdown and multifaceted propaganda campaign intended to eradicate the practice. In October 1999 it declared Falun Gong a “heretical organization” and blocked Internet access to websites that mention Falun Gong. Human rights groups report that Falun Gong practitioners in China are subject to a wide range of human rights abuses; hundreds of thousands are believed to have been imprisoned extrajudicially, and practitioners in detention are subject to forced labor, psychiatric abuse, torture, and other coercive methods of thought reform at the hands of Chinese authorities. In the years since the suppression campaign began, Falun Gong adherents have emerged as a prominent voice in the Chinese dissident community, advocating for greater human rights and an end to Communist Party rule.

Li Hongzhi has lived in the United States since 1996, and Falun Gong has a sizable global constituency; inside China, some sources estimate that millions may continue to practice Falun Gong in spite of suppression. Hundreds of thousands are believed to practice Falun Gong outside China across some 70 countries worldwide.

I was told that in a short way – the concept at the base of these organizations is – GIVE A VOICE TO THE VOICELESS. So, clearly, this is very political.


The above introduction comes to explain that there is a link between the cultural aspects of SHEN YUN and a religious-political movement that the leaders of communist China saw as potential competition for the minds of the people. Many of the persecuted Falun Gong practitioners fled and appreciate the freedom they enjoy in new lands, but immersed in an attempt to hold on to the original, pre-communist  culture of China, they came up with the cultural institutions we mentioned here.

Based in New York, Shen Yun Performing Arts was established in 2006 with the specific mission of reviving 5,000 years of as stated – “divinely inspired” Chinese culture.

SHEN YUN is translated as “the beauty of the divine” and the idea is that this dance and music aspire to achieve an experience so profound, beautiful and joyful that it evokes a sense of the heavens.

After more than 60 years of Communist rule in China, and especially after the Cultural Revolution, Chinese traditional culture has been all but completely demolished. However, the deeper spiritual core of the ancient culture, with its values of benevolence, honor, propriety, wisdom, and sincerity, as well as a reverence for the gods and the heavens, cannot be destroyed.

In order to restore and revive Chinese traditional culture, a group of overseas Chinese artists established Shen Yun in New York in 2006. About 90 artists embarked on Shen Yun’s tour in 2007, in the first year, including a dance troupe, an orchestra, solo singers and musicians, emcees, and production staff. By 2009, Shen Yun had already grown to three performance troupes and orchestras of comparable size. Today, Shen Yun counts many winners of international dance and vocal competitions among its artists, and the orchestras include many musicians from world-renowned symphonies and conservatories.

Shen Yun Performing Arts’ rapid growth has enabled it to reach all corners of the globe. The group will only continue to expand, and in the not-too-distant future, Shen Yun will have many companies touring around the world simultaneously. Shen Yun has become thus a diaspora based Chinese old culture Ambassador to the World – to be in this position until complete freedom will be allowed in China; on the other hand, enjoying the freedoms in their new lands makes Shen Yun also into a tool of their new hosts, like America, as they enrich the stew of these host countries as well.



This is a full size symphonic orchestra that presented regular classic music as well as the chinese music they want to preserve – doing this they will find a way to the normal orchestra circuit and not be dependent only on pure Chinese audiences – then, clearly, Chinese audiences want to hear also this other repertoir.

The concert was opened by the orchestra playing The Star-Spangled Banner that was not followed by the Chinese anthem – clearly a sign that this was an AMERICAN ORCHESTRA or if you wish a Chinese-American started orchestra – not of Chinese government inspiration.

There were three co-conductors – but it was clear that the main conductor was the  Soviet educated Bulgarian-American Milen Nachev. In addition there were Keng-Wei Kuo who hails from Taiwan, and Dr. Antonia Joy Wilson who is an established conductor of her own, but also the wife of Mr. Nachev.

The repertoir included Vivaldi,  Rimsky Korsakov, and Beethoven and 13 Chinese compositions but what I looked for was who conducts what and was very pleased to see that Mr. Kuo did not get all the Chinese music.

So it Mr. Nachev who conducted “What is the Meaning of Life?,” “”Honor Your vow,” “Hope of Returning Home,” “The Purpose of Life,” “The Song in my Heart,” and “Divine Compassion” who was a World Premiere and is by Junyi Tan and Y. Deng.

Dr. Wilson conducted “No Regret.” This left only six compositions for Mr. Kuo.

Five of the pieces that Mr. Nachev conducted are based on old texts and are presented in the program also in English translation.

The remaining two compositions not conducted by Mr. Kuo are defined as Pieces with Modern Themes and are only instrumental music.

Thus “No regret” begins with a cheerful folk melody representing life in a village. Then the police arrives to make an arrest on the basis of beliefs. They catch the fugitive and beat him to death. Then divine fairies come to take him to heaven.

“Divine Compassion” is even more pointed as is about the Falun Dafa as power of good in fight with evil in order to transform the world. The forces of good triumph at the end and a new era and blessing and prosperity begins for humankind.

Another instrumental piece that attracted my attention was by Yuan Gao and was described as Tibetan-Inspired Music. It is called “Khata for the Gods.” Khata is the white scarf that is presented in a gesture of respect. This Khata is offered to Buddha. This is a song of hope for the harvest next year. Was there also a political meaning? Perhaps.

In the vocal parts – the two sopranos and the three tenors were all Chinese and had very good voices.

The only other stand-outs were the two excellent trumpets in the Vivaldi piece and I was surprised to see that they returned to the orchestra and were not outsiders. One of them is Alexander Wilson and I wonder if he is not related to the the pair of conductors. The other is Kaspar Maertig from Germany. Both of them are members of Shen Yun Performing Arts Orchestra.


Posted on on July 11th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Bhutan calls for a mindful revolution at the United Nations.

by  | May 12, 2012
Bhutan’s Prime Minister Jigme Thinley (left) and Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla at the UN, via AFP.

The monks of South Asia have been chanting on behalf of the happiness and well-being of all creatures for 2,500 years. Now, the spirit of those mantras has marched out of the monastery and into the streets, even into the halls of the United Nations.

Calling for nothing less than nonviolent resistance against the failed global economic system, the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, sandwiched between India and China, took to the world stage last month by leading a “High Level Meeting on Happiness and Well-Being.” Its recommendation: Replace the Bretton Woods economic paradigm, imposed on the world by the United States in the wake of World War II, with an entirely new and inherently more just system.

The prime minister of Bhutan, Jigme Thinley, called on the people of the world to demand a change. Scholars, Nobel laureates, political actors, U.N. officials and staff, and spiritual and civil society leaders, many from the Global South, affirmed that the current system serves neither the human community nor other creatures on the planet.

“The GDP-led development model,” Thinley told the gathering, “compels boundless growth on a planet with limited resources.” Moreover, “it no longer makes economic sense. It is the cause of our irresponsible, immoral and self-destructive actions.” Finally, the prime minister concluded, “The purpose of development must be to create enabling conditions through public policy for the pursuit of the ultimate goal of happiness by all citizens.”

Most of the 600 in attendance shared Bhutan’s vision. Indian activist Vandana Shiva emphasized the importance of such a basic human need as food, the source of profit for a few and misery for many. As she has noted before, “The poor are not those who have been ‘left behind’; they are the ones who have been robbed.” The current paradigm creates a flow of financial, social, human and natural capital to the United States and other rich nations at the expense of everyone else.

Although Bhutan has faced criticism in the past for its treatment of Nepalese immigrants and the jailing of smokers, it has made considerable progress in recent years by establishing a new democracy and implementing creative efforts to measure its citizens’ well-being and happiness. The concept of Gross National Happiness was coined by the former King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who abdicated in 2006 and set the democratization process in motion. To its credit, Bhutan is setting high standards for itself that may be difficult to reach, but the country is not alone in this endeavor.

Costa Rica’s President Laura Chinchilla gave the keynote address, sharing the experience of her country, noting, “In 1948 we decided to consolidate the best of our civic values, and abolished the army. We chose to solve our disputes through the ballots, not the bullets; we decided to invest in schools and teachers, not garrisons and soldiers.” Rather than decreasing the national security, “This uninterrupted path turned Costa Rica into the most stable and longest living democracy in Latin America.”

Interfaith spiritual leaders at the meeting, including the moderator of the Church of Canada and the Buddhist supreme patriarch of Thailand, as well as representatives from major religious traditions, issued their own statement calling for a new economic paradigm “based upon compassion, altruism, balance, and peace, dedicated to the well-being, happiness, dignity and sacredness of all forms of life.”

Meanwhile, economists John Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey Sachs distributed copies of the World Happiness Report. They argue, “We live in an age of stark contradictions. The world enjoys technologies of unimaginable sophistication; yet has at least one billion people without enough to eat each day.”

The official statement that came out of the meeting calls for a new paradigm with four pillars: ecological sustainability, happiness and well-being for all, fair distribution, and efficient use of resources. An unexpected 200 participants remained at the U.N. for two additional days to clarify what the new paradigm would look like, to propose new solutions, and to strategize how to mobilize a global movement in civil society to resist the current one and implement the change. Relevant civil society, educational, spiritual and activist organizations worldwide are being informed about the process, with an eye toward a 2014 convention that would replace Bretton Woods.

Widespread civil resistance movements would be a vital component in bringing about a shift toward so radically different a paradigm as this. Yet the meeting suggests that insufficient use has been made of the United Nations as a venue by change activists. Despite the U.N.’s obvious shortcomings — for instance, OWS recently protested the influence of corporations on environmental proceedings— it is nonetheless an infrastructure where every nation has a voice, at least in theory. Paradoxically, Global South elites who are also victims of the current economic paradigm provide an entrée into the system for grassroots activists, and this meeting demonstrates that the U.N. can offer a venue for radical critique. But the U.N. will only work on behalf of the people if the people insist that it does and begin to explore the possibilities that it might offer as a space for challenging injustice at a global level.

Dutch Rabbi Awraham Soetendorp, a long-time veteran of international meetings, observed that this one had “a different spirit” and that the time was ripe for unprecedented change. His call for a 0.01 percent donation of everyone’s income, especially from the rich nations, was received with enthusiasm by the civil society working group, which is creating a World Happiness Bank (a tentative name) that would promote and model the new economic paradigm.

This change will not happen, of course, without the mobilization of a nonviolent resistance movement. That’s where we come in; we have a new opportunity to act against a system that is robbing humanity and its fellow creatures through what the meeting’s statement calls the “private capture of the common wealth.” And we can do so by following the lead of the marginalized.


Posted on on May 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (


“Manche Tibeter haben zu weinen begonnen, als sie mich sahen.”


  • Artikelbild
    foto: reuters/leonhard foeger

    Lobsang Sangay und Tenzin Gyatso, der 14. Dalai Lama, bei einer Pressekonferenz in Wien.

  • Artikelbild
    foto:ashwini bhatia, file/ap/dapd

    Lobsang Sangay: “Wenn die Han-Chinesen uns überrollen, verliert die Autonomie ihren Sinn.”

Der tibetische Exilpremier Lobsang Sangay ist einer der engsten Vertrauten des Dalai Lama – In Tibet selbst war er aber noch nie

Von seinem Hotelzimmer in der Wiener Innenstadt aus überblickt Lobsang Sangay die Bundeshauptstadt, wo er am Nachmittag gemeinsam mit dem Dalai Lama eine Kundgebung von Exil-Tibetern besuchen wird. Danach fliegt der 2011 ins Amt gewählte Chef der international nicht anerkannten tibetischen Exilregierung zurück nach Indien, wo er geboren wurde und bis heute residiert. Im Gespräch mit erzählt der Exil-Premier über seinen Einfluss auf den tibetischen Widerstand gegen die chinesischen Behörden und seine Vision eines gewaltfreien Kampfes für mehr Autonomie seiner Landsleute.

*** Sie waren noch nie in Tibet. Wie hoch kann dann Ihr Einfluss auf die Menschen dort sein?

Lobsang Sangay: Das ist natürlich schwer abzuschätzen. Auf YouTube zum Beispiel gibt es viele Lieder, die von Musikern aus Tibet geschrieben wurden. Bisher waren diese fast ausschließlich dem Dalai Lama gewidmet. Heute gibt es schon einige Stücke, die mir gewidmet sind. Etwa eines, das übersetzt “Drei Löwen” heißt. Löwe ist mein zweiter Vorname und die Flagge Tibets schmücken zwei Löwen. Wenn Menschen in Tibet es wagen, Lieder über mich auf YouTube zu stellen, bedeutet das doch dass es eine wachsende Aufmerksamkeit und Akzeptanz für meine und unsere Arbeit gibt. Ich habe tausende Tibeter in Indien getroffen, manche haben zu weinen begonnen, als sie mich sahen. Natürlich hat das nicht unbedingt etwas mit mir persönlich zu tun, sondern mit meiner symbolischen Funktion als demokratisch gewählter Exilpremier. Wie stellen Sie sich Ihre Ankunft in Tibet vor, sollten Sie eines Tages Ihr Ziel erreichen und Ihr Vaterland besuchen können?

Lobsang Sangay: Natürlich male ich mir dafür ein sehr romantisches und idealistisches Szenario aus. Mir ist aber auch klar, dass es politisch schwierig werden könnte. Egal welche Probleme dann auftauchen, mental gesehen werde ich wohl tief durchatmen und sagen, jetzt bin ich zurück in meinem Heimatland. Ganz sicher wird es ein sehr emotionaler und glücklicher Tag sein. Warum hat die tibetische Freiheitsbewegung so viele Unterstützer auf der ganzen Welt, während sich um Kurden oder Roma vergleichsweise wenig Menschen kümmern?

Lobsang Sangay: Man kann zurückgehen bis zu Shangri-La von James Hilton (ein fiktiver, literarischer Ort im Himalaya, Anm.), wo schon vom exotischen Tibet gesprochen wurde. Dazu kommt sicher die Popularität des Buddhismus im Westen und die ethisch-politische Agenda des Dalai Lama, die heute weit mehr umfasst als die Religion. Seine Botschaft von Gewaltlosigkeit und Frieden ist universell. Die Menschen im Westen sehen aber auch, dass wir als Exiltibeter in Demokratie investiert haben. Natürlich wurden große Führer wie Gandhi oder Nelson Mandela von den Indern und Südafrikanern als Ikonen akzeptiert, aber demokratisch gewählt wurden sie nicht. Wir Tibeter haben in mehr als vierzig Ländern an einem einzigen Tag einen Anführer gewählt. Diese innere Demokratie geht Menschen im Westen nahe. Es gibt aber Stimmen, etwa unter tibetischen Studenten, die sich für radikaleren Widerstand gegen China aussprechen. Sehen Sie die Gefahr der Spaltung Ihrer Bewegung?

Lobsang Sangay: Es wird in jeder Bewegung immer unterschiedliche Meinungen geben. Wir treten für echte Autonomie innerhalb Chinas ein, manche Studenten wünschen sich die vollständige Unabhängigkeit Tibets. Das sind aber nur Minderheiten. Wir müssen sicherstellen, dass es nicht zu einer Fraktionsbildung kommt und dass wir keine Flügelkämpfe erleben müssen. Wie gedenken Sie denSelbstverbrennungen, über die in den vergangenen Monaten viel berichtet wurde, Einhalt zu gebieten?

Lobsang Sangay: Wir rufen grundsätzlich nicht zu Protesten innerhalb Tibets auf, weil das zu gefährlich ist und die Konsequenzen von Seiten der chinesischen Behörden zu scharf sind. Was die Selbstverbrennungen betrifft rufen wir selbstverständlich nicht dazu auf, im Gegenteil, wir versuchen diese Menschen davon abzuhalten. Mehr können wir nicht tun. Sehr wohl sind wir mit den Zielen dieser Menschen aber solidarisch und rufen dazu auf, ihrer zu gedenken. Das ist unsere heilige Pflicht. Was würde mit den Millionen Han-Chinesen passieren, die heute in Tibet wohnen?

Lobsang Sangay: Han-Chinesen und Tibeter haben immer schon nebeneinander gelebt, tausende Jahre lang. Der Geburtsort des Dalai Lama etwa war damals schon hauptsächlich von Chinesen bewohnt. Ich habe in Harvard hunderte Chinesen kennengelernt, viele meiner Freunde sind Chinesen. Es geht nicht um die Menschen, sondern um die Hardliner in Peking, die die Völker gegeneinander aufhetzen. Wir haben uns natürlich überlegt, was wir gegen die Aushöhlung der tibetischen Identität im Falle einer echten Autonomie tun könnten. Denn wenn die Han-Chinesen uns überrollen, verliert die Autonomie ihren Sinn. Aber gerade wenn wir innerhalb Chinas bleiben, sind wir ja an die Gesetze Chinas gebunden, die logischerweise jede Diskriminierung von Han-Chinesen verbieten. Woher kommt die Verbindung des Dalai Lama zu Österreich?

Lobsang Sangay: Das österreichische Volk hat immer schon besonderes Interesse für die Belange der Tibeter gezeigt. Natürlich liegt das auch an der Herkunft Heinrich Harrers. Der Dalai Lama hat wenige Länder in Europa öfter besucht als Österreich. Es scheint aber auch, dass Österreicher sich besonders für Umwelt- und Menschenrechtsangelegenheiten interessieren. Wer hat Ihre Reise nach Wien bezahlt?

Lobsang Sangay: Grundsätzlich bezahlen wir unsere Regierung aus Spenden von Einzelpersonen, Organisationen und Stiftungen. Dazu kommt eine “freiwillige Freiheitssteuer” durch Exiltibeter, die etwa ein Drittel unserer Kosten tragen. Wenn ich ins Ausland reise, bezahlen das die lokalen Organisationen in den jeweiligen Ländern, so auch hier. (flon,, 26.5.2012)


Zur Person:

Der in Harvard ausgebildete Jurist Lobsang Sangay (44) ist seit 2011 Premierminister der tibetischen Exilregierung im nordindischen Dharamsala.


Posted on on May 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Selbstverbrennungen erreichen Tibets Hauptstadt Lhasa.

28. Mai 2012, 08:53

Zumindest einer von zwei Mönchen bei Protestaktion gegen chinesische Okkupation getötet.

Peking – Aus Protest gegen die chinesische Tibet-Politik haben sich in der tibetischen Hauptstadt Lhasa zwei Mönche selbst angezündet. Dabei wurde mindestens einer der beiden getötet, wie die amtliche chinesische Nachrichtenagentur Xinhua am Montag meldete. Es waren die ersten Selbstverbrennungen in Lhasa selbst. In der seit 2009 andauernden Serie von Selbstverbrennungen aus Protest gegen die chinesische Herrschaft war es das erste Mal, dass sich Tibeter direkt in der tibetischen Hauptstadt mit Benzin übergossen und angezündet haben.

Der zweite Mönch sei schwer verletzt, berichtete Xinhua weiter. Polizisten hätten die Flammen in wenigen Minuten gelöscht. Ein ranghoher kommunistischer Vertreter der Region, Hao Peng, verurteilte den Vorfall. Damit solle Tibet von China getrennt werden.

Laut dem in den USA ansässigen Sender Radio Free Asia (RFA) gehörten die beiden Mönche offenbar zu einer Gruppe Jugendlicher, die sich am Sonntag vor dem Jokhang-Tempel versammelt hatten, um gegen die chinesische Herrschaft in der autonomen Region zu protestieren.

Massive Polizeipräsenz

Laut von dem US-Sender zitierten Zeugen erschienen sofort Sicherheitskräfte, die das Feuer löschten und alle Touristen aus der Gegend verbannten. Innerhalb von 15 Minuten sei der Bereich gesäubert gewesen, und von dem Vorfall habe es keine Spur mehr gegeben. Die Sicherheitsmaßnahmen in Lhasa wurden umgehend verschärft. Die Lage sei angespannt. Polizisten und paramilitärische Kräfte seien überall in den Straßen zu sehen.

Es handelte erst sich um die zweite Selbstverbrennung in Tibet selbst. In den vergangenen drei Jahren sind insgesamt 35 Fälle in China bekanntgeworden, wo Tibeter sich selbst verbrannt haben, die meisten davon in von Tibetern bewohnten Provinzen Chinas, insbesondere in der Südwestprovinz Sichuan.

Die Suizidaktionen sind ein symbolischer Protest gegen die chinesische Herrschaft. China hält Tibet seit dem Jahr 1951 besetzt und kontrolliert die autonome Region sowie die anliegenden Provinzen, in denen ebenfalls zahlreiche Tibeter leben, mit harter Hand. Die Tibeter klagen über ihre soziale und kulturelle Marginalisierung durch die ethnischen Han-Chinesen, die systematisch in ihren Heimatregionen angesiedelt werden. Das geistliche Oberhaupt der Tibeter, der Dalai Lama, lebt im nordindischen Dharamsala im Exil. (APA, 28.5.2012)


Der Gelehrte Tsewang Nyima, in Peking, über Selbstverbrennungen von Mönchen und den Status quo.

STANDARD: Seit März 2011 hat es über 35 Selbstverbrennungen von tibetischen Mönchen und Nonnen gegeben. Warum?

Nyima: Sie sind verzweifelt, weil die tibetische Kultur zugrunde geht (schluchzt). Selbstverbrennungen sind die letzte Maßnahme, um Aufmerksamkeit auf Tibet zu lenken. Die Lage hat sich seit 2008 dort sehr verschlechtert. Massendemonstrationen werden im Keim erstickt. Selbstverbrennungen können die Chinesen dagegen kaum kontrollieren.

STANDARD: 2008 gab es teilweise gewaltsame Proteste von Tibetern gegen die chinesische Herrschaft …

Nyima: … und die Olympischen Spiele in China. Seitdem sind in den Städten und in der Umgebung der Klöster in Tibet viele Soldaten und zivile Polizisten stationiert, die eine scharfe Kontrolle ausüben. Wer nur einen Hauch Negatives über China sagt, muss fürchten, festgenommen zu werden.

STANDARD: Haben die Selbstverbrennungen etwas bewirkt?

Nyima: Für die Verbreitung der politischen Situation war es sehr hilfreich, weil man jetzt darüber spricht und viele Menschen sich fragen, was in Tibet geschieht. Aber nun ist es wichtig, dass die Regierungen darauf reagieren und Tibet politisch mehr unterstützen – auch gegenüber China.

STANDARD: Wie vollzieht sich der Untergang der tibetischen Kultur?

Nyima: Zum Beispiel über die Sprache. Tibetisch wird in Privatschulen von der ersten bis zur sechsten Klasse angeboten, an weiterführenden Schulen kaum. Wer die höheren Universitäten besuchen will, muss sich auf Chinesisch konzentrieren. Kinder, die zuerst Tibetisch lernen, sind da im Nachteil. In der Alltagssprache sind viele Begriffe durch chinesische verdrängt worden. Und die Mönche in den Klöstern haben politische Unterweisungen und werden dazu gezwungen, sich gegen den Dalai Lama zu stellen.

STANDARD: Glauben Sie, dass eine gemeinsame Lösung des Konflikts mit den Chinesen möglich ist?

Nyima: Wir wollen keine Trennung von Chinesen und Tibetern, das ist auch nicht mehr möglich. Aber wir wollen eine Autonomie, sodass Tibet von den Tibetern regiert wird, ohne dass Chinas Führung von Peking aus mitredet. Aber wegen der chinesischen Unterwanderung drängt die Zeit.

STANDARD: Was erwarten Sie von der neuen chinesischen Führung, die im Herbst antritt?

Nyima: Der Wechsel könnte etwas verbessern, weil die neue Führung mehr westliche Kontakte hat und vielleicht weltoffener ist. (Julia Raabe, DER STANDARD, 25.4.2012)

Tsewang Nyima (74) ist ein hochrangiger Gelehrter des tibetischen Buddhismus. Er wurde in der tibetischen Hauptstadt Lhasa geboren und floh im Zuge des Tibetaufstands 1959 ins Exil. Seine Ausbildung zum geistigen Lehrer begann er mit neun Jahren. 1980 wurde ihm der höchste Titel des “Geshe Lharampa” verliehen. Er lehrt u. a. im Thosamling-Kloster nahe Dharamsala in Indien.



Dalai Lama für “Jahrhundert des Friedens”

25. Mai 2012, 17:45
  • Artikelbild
    foto: apa/epa/techt

    Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama

Exiltibeterchef zeigt Sympathie für die Grünen – Treffen mit Vizekanzler Spindelegger.

Wien – Bei seiner ersten öffentlichen Veranstaltung in Wien hat der Dalai Lama, das Oberhaupt der tibetischen Buddhisten, Friede und Dialog für das 21. Jahrhundert gefordert. Das vergangene Jahrhundert sei eines der Gewalt gewesen, das derzeitige solle eines des Dialoges werden, forderte der 76-Jährige im Rahmen eines Vortrages zum Thema “Jenseits von Religion – Ethik und menschliche Werte in der modernen Gesellschaft” am Freitagnachmittag in der Stadthalle

Im Anschluss an den Vortrag traf das geistliche Oberhaupt der Tibeter auf Vizekanzler und Außenminister Michael Spindelegger (VP). Würde er einer Partei zugehören, wären dies jedoch die Grünen, ließ der Dalai Lama im Beisein des Vizekanzlers wissen. Das Publikum goutierte die Aussage mit spontanem Applaus. “Ich kenne aber die Partei des Herrn Ministers nicht”, fügte er hinzu.

“Universelle Verantwortung”

Die Gewalt heutzutage sei ein “Versäumnis des vergangenen Jahrhunderts”, Terrorismus sei nur einer der Auswüchse dessen, erklärte der Dalai Lama in seinem Vortrag vor rund 10.000 Zuhörern. Nichtsdestotrotz zeigte er sich optimistisch, dass dieses Jahrhundert “ein besseres” wird. Dies sei aber auch “von unseren eigenen Bemühungen abhängig”, mahnte der Friedensnobelpreisträger. Ein wichtiges Element dabei sei Bildung. “Durch Bildung können wir ein glücklicheres Jahrhundert schaffen”, betonte der Dalai Lama.

“Vom Kindergarten bis zur Universität” müssten nach Ansicht des tibetischen Oberhauptes die wichtigsten gesellschaftlichen Werte wie Ehrlichkeit, Offenheit und Vertrauen gelehrt werden. Dadurch gewinne der Mensch Selbstvertrauen und könne “universelle Verantwortung” entwickeln. Er trete für eine “säkuläre Entwicklung der menschlichen Werte” ein, erklärte der 14. Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso.

Säkularismus will der Dalai Lama in der indischen Definition verstanden wissen. Es bedeute für ihn, alle Religionen und auch diejenigen Menschen zu respektieren, die keiner Religion angehören. Generell hob der Religionsführer immer wieder das “Gemeinsame” hervor, das über das Trennende zu stellen sei. “Wir sind alle gleich, auch ich bin nichts Besonderes”, hatte er auch bei einer Pressekonferenz am Vormittag gesagt. “Mental, physisch und emotional bin ich einer von euch”, stellte er vor der begeisterten Menge in der Stadthalle fest.

Die “Einheit der Menschheit” sei deshalb so wichtig, weil “ohnehin alles voneinander abhängig” ist. Die eigenen Interessen seien immer auch gemeinsame Interessen, sagte der Dalai Lama. Als oberstes Ziel nannte er ein “friedvolles Zusammenleben”, dies bedeute, “anderen zu helfen” oder “zumindest keinen Schaden zuzufügen”.

Am Samstag spricht der Dalai Lama bei einem Symposium an der Universität zu Buddhismus und Wissenschaft mit dem Titel “Geist und Materie – neue Modelle der Wirklichkeit”. Am Nachmittag (ab 14.30 Uhr) gibt es die Möglichkeit, den Dalai Lama am Heldenplatz im Rahmen der “Europäischen Solidaritätskundgebung für Tibet” zu sehen. Den Abschluss des Besuches bildet ein Treffen mit Kardinal Schönborn Sonntagfrüh.  (APA, 25.5.2012)


Posted on on May 28th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Address at Rio Earth Summit of 1992.

I am extremely happy and feel great honor to be with you here. My basic belief is that the purpose of our life is happiness, and happiness depends on its own basis. I believe the basic base, or the cause of happiness and satisfaction, is material and spiritual development.

Then again, human beings irrespective of our ability, knowledge, technology are basically a product of nature. So therefore, ultimately, our fate very much depends on nature.

In ancient times I think, when human ability was limited, we were very aware of the importance of nature; and so we respected nature. Then the time came when we developed through science and technology; and we had more ability. Now sometimes it seems people forget about the importance of nature. Sometimes we get some kind of wrong belief that we human beings can control nature with the help of technology. Of course, in certain limited areas we can to a certain extent. But with the globe as a whole it is impossible. Therefore now the time has come to be aware of the importance of nature, the importance of our globe. You see, one day we might find all living things on this planet- including human beings-are doomed.

I think one danger is that things like nuclear war are an immediate cause of concern so everybody realizes something is horrible. But damage to the environment happens gradually without much awareness. Once we realize something very obvious to everybody it may be too late. So therefore I think we must realize in time our responsibility to take care of our own world.

I often tell people that the moon and stars when remaining high in the sky look very beautiful, like an ornament. But if we really try to go and settle there on the moon, perhaps a few days may be very nice and some new experience may be very nice and some new experience may be very exciting. But, if we really remain there, I think within a few days we would get very homesick for our small planet. So this is our only home. Therefore, I think this kind of gathering concerning our environment and the planet is very useful, very important ‘and timely.

And of course things are not easy, so I don’t think all problems could be solved at once through such meetings. However, this kind of meeting is very helpful to open eyes.

So, once the human mind wakes up humans such intelligence, that we may find certain ways and means to solve problems. But sometimes we just take everything for granted and don’t care, and this kind of negligence is also a danger. So, such meetings on a critical situation, if approached with an open human mind and eyes, are important and useful. These are my feelings.

Thank you!


Posted on on May 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

On arrival to Vienna His Holiness the Dalai Lama drove to his hotel where Prof. Heinz Nussbaumer met him and immediately escorted him to a meeting with the press. They were joined by the Kalon Tripa, Dr Lobsang Sangay, who has been invited to Vienna to address the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet tomorrow, Saturday, May 26, 2012, and His Holiness introduced him to the assembled journalists.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama introduces Kalon Tripa (the Prime Minister of Tibet in Exile) Dr. Lobsang Sangay to journalists at a meeting with members of the press in Vienna, Austria, on May 25, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
“This young man was born in India, but completed his education at Harvard University. Since the Tibetan leader 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, so now he’s my boss – although when it comes to spiritual affairs, I’m still his boss!”

His Holiness began by outlining his two major commitments: that as a human being like the other seven billion on the planet, who want to be happy and have a right to be happy, he is committed to helping others find lasting happiness.  Secondly,  as a simple Buddhist monk he tries to promote harmony and understanding among different religious traditions. He said that it is very sad when religion becomes a ground for conflict, considering that all the major religions have the potential to help humanity.
“I believe the media also have a special responsibility to report these things. And in a democratic society, they also have a responsibility to sniff out what’s going on.  When hypocrisy becomes almost fashionable, the media should investigate impartially and objectively and report what they find in order to help build a clean society.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama meeting with members of the press in Vienna, Austria, on May 25, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

In response to a question about his hopes for Tibet, His Holiness said that observing the power of truth compared to the power of the gun for over fifty years, it seems that in the short term the gun may prevail, but in the long run the power of truth is much stronger. This is why Tibetans have adhered to their policy of non-violence. In contrast to which the Chinese authorities appear to think they can solve Tibet’s problems by increasing suppression, that is, through the power of the gun. What support like the planned rally tomorrow will show, is that the Tibetan problem will not go away.

Another questioner wanted to know about links between Tibetan resistance forces and the CIA. His Holiness admitted the connection, but clarified that Tibetan resistance had already begun before the CIA became involved. What’s more, His Holiness’s escape from Norbulingka was planned and executed by Tibetans and the CIA made contact only after he was well on his way.

In the afternoon, His Holiness began his talk at the Vienna Stadthalle by introducing his German translator, Christoph Spitz and his English speaking assistant, Geshe Tashi Tsering, to the audience. He pointed out that the seven billion human beings  alive today are physically and emotionally the same and that he counted himself among them. If we seek to find differences, there will be no limit, for even we change from who we were in the morning, at noon and in the evening. He said we pay too much attention to secondary differences, while fundamentally we are all the same. We all belong to one humanity, which we tend to forget.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting the audience at the Vienna Stadthalle before his talk “Beyond Religion – Ethics for the Whole World” in Vienna, Austria, on May 25, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

Considering that about 200 million died in war and violence during the twentieth century, His Holiness recommended that we take steps to ensure that the twenty-first century is instead the beginning of an era of peace and non-violence. But, he said, this will not be achieved by mere prayer or meditation, peace will have to be brought about through action. He also made clear that even if there is peace, that is no guarantee that we will not face problems or conflicts. The difference will be that we need to address and solve them through dialogue.

His Holiness again stressed that we need moral principles, but as many people think that ethical principles are the preserve of religion and many of them have little regard for religion, we need to employ secular ethics. He clarified that he uses the word secular not to dismiss religion, but as it is used in India, to include and indicate respect for all religious traditions. Secular ethics are what we are going to need to solve the gap between rich and poor and the threats climate change presents to our environment.

“I feel we can change, we can create a happier century by building awareness. Whatever goal we are seeking to achieve must be approached realistically. As most of our problems arise because of the destructive factors in our minds. If we can overcome these and apply a sense of secular ethics, we can build a happier, more peaceful world for everyone.”

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during his talk “Beyond Religion – Ethics for the Whole World” at the Vienna Stadthalle in Vienna, Austria, on May 25, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

His Holiness then invited the audience to submit questions to him. To a question about the most important value to apply in daily life, he said,

“Lead an honest life, help people, and animals if you can, and at least refrain from harming them. Keep a calm mind, then you’ll stay relaxed whatever happens. Practise with determination, but don’t inflate your expectations. People sometimes ask me for the quickest way to change their minds, but in our day and age I expect they also want to know the cheapest way and the way that requires the least effort.”

About the future of humanity, His Holiness again raised changing attitudes to war, pointing out that in the early twentieth century young men joined up without hesitation, whereas now the public has by and large turned against war, as shown by the demonstrations against the Vietnam and Iraq wars. He also cited changing attitudes to relations between science and spirituality, both of which now seem much better able to learn from each other. Although he hopes and expects the twenty-first century to be a better more peaceful century than the last, he reiterated that it will not be achieved just by wishing for it. Everyone will have to make an effort and contribute to a people’s movement for change.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama offers a Tibetan ceremonial scarf to Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger during his talk at the Vienna Stadthalle in Vienna, Austria, on May 25, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

As His Holiness was ending his talk, telling his listeners in Austria, “I consider you my friends and I am your friend,” Dr Michael Spin Charts delegger, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister of Austria arrived to greet him, followed by a brief private meeting.

Tomorrow, His Holiness will attend two sessions of a Symposium on Buddhism and Science, as well as the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet.


Posted on on May 27th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

His Holiness Meets the Austrian Chancellor, attends a Science Symposium and the European Rally for Tibet.

May 27th 2012     –     from


The 14th Dalai Lama mid-May 2012 Europe-trip took him to the UK (where he received The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities – in front of 2000 people at the St. Paul Cathedral in London and met in private with the Prime Minister and his Deputy), Slovenia, Belgium, and Austria (where he was received by two States – Koernten and Salzberg, and in private by the Federal Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor).

* * * *  This was added by Pincas Jawetz


Vienna, Austria, 26 May 2012 – The sun shone and a small crowd of well-wishers smiled warmly as His Holiness arrived opposite St Stephen’s Cathedral to be met by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna. They were almost immediately joined by the Austrian Chancellor, Werner Faymann and the three went into a meeting together.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHD

Standing at a balcony window nearby, Cardinal Schönborn took the opportunity to explain some of the restoration work that has been taking place at St Stephen’s, the most important religious building in Vienna, before the bells rang out calling him back to the cathedral. His Holiness and the Chancellor continued to discuss matters of mutual concern.

Next, His Holiness drove to the University of Vienna to attend a symposium on Buddhism and Science: Mind & Matter – New Models of Reality, where he was welcomed by the Rector of the University, Heinz Engl.

Describing it as a great honour for him to participate in the discussions, His Holiness noted that towards the end of the last century, scientists had begun to take a serious interest in the workings of our minds and emotions. He said he had been fascinated by how things work since he was a child and learned a great deal about how electricity functions from investigating the movie projector and generator that had belonged to the 13th Dalai Lama.

About 40 years ago he began to learn about cosmology, neuropsychology and quantum physics and for nearly 30 years has been conducting regular dialogues with scientists. The purpose of these dialogues is, firstly, to extend human knowledge, not only in the material field, but also the inner space of our minds, and, secondly, through exploring such phenomena as a calm mind, to promote human happiness.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama and fellow panelists during the symposium on Buddhism and science “Mind and Matter – New Models of Reality” at the University of Vienna, in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
With Mr Gert Scobel moderating, Prof Dr Anton Zeilinger, Prof Dr Klaus-Dieter Mathes, Dr Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch made their presentations, which explored aspects of quantum physics, Madhyamaka philosophy and psychoanalysis.

His Holiness hosted a lunch at his hotel for all the speakers that was also attended by Kalon Tripa, Dr Lobsang Sangay, social and human rights activist Bianca Jagger, former French Foreign Minister and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières, Bernard Kouchner and other friends who were in Vienna to attend the European Rally for Tibet. In the afternoon session of the Science symposium, Prof Dr Michael von Brück and Prof Dr Wolf Singer gave informative presentations on how the mind understands the structure of reality and the search for neuronal correlates of consciousness.

As the symposium came to an end, His Holiness expressed his appreciation, “Over the 30 or 40 years that I have been acquainted with scientists, I have noticed how many of them are acutely aware of the limitations of their knowledge. It is a good quality to recognise that our scope for learning is vast. They display an open-mindedness that is really admirable.”

A memorandum of co-operation was signed between Prof Geshe Ngawang Samten, Director and Vice Chancellor of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, Varanasi, India and the Rector of Vienna University, Heinz Engl, providing for an exchange of students and scholars of the two institutions. Geshe Tenzin Dhargye, Director of the Tibet Center that has organized the various functions His Holiness has attended in Austria on this visit, offered his thanks to His Holiness and everyone who has participated.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting the crowd of over 10,000 at the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet at the Vienna Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
In the warm, late afternoon, His Holiness drove to Vienna’s Heldenplatz where 10,000 people had assembled for the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet. Addressing his dear brothers and sisters in the crowd, he told them how happy he was to be there and that he would like to first say a few words in Tibetan to the Tibetans present.

“Our culture is under threat of destruction, therefore I want to take this opportunity to speak my own language. Archaeological findings indicate that Tibetan history dates back 3-4000 years. We Tibetans must not forget our identity, for our blood, flesh and bones come from Tibet. Since the 7th century we have employed the Tibetan written language in which the most complete and thorough translations have been made of Buddhist knowledge from the original Sanskrit. This is a treasure for the world, not only for Tibetans. And when we talk about preserving Tibetan Buddhist culture, I don’t mean just paying respects before a Buddhist image, but putting the teachings into practice and trying to live as good human beings.”

He talked about the urgent need to protect the Tibetan environment, which because it is the source of many of the rivers that run through Asia is of value not only to Tibetans but millions of others too. He expressed the fear that once environmental damage has taken place it will take a great deal of time to recover. Distinguishing Buddhist religion, which is the business of Buddhist practitioners, from Buddhist culture, which, as a culture of peace, honesty and compassion, is worth preserving for the good of the world.

Meanwhile, millions of Chinese are already showing interest in Tibetan Buddhist culture. His Holiness stressed that the damage and destruction of Tibetan Buddhist culture that has taken place was not because Tibetans were not interested, but because of the difficult political circumstances in which they find themselves.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the European Solidarity Rally for Tibet at the Vienna Heldenplatz in Vienna, Austria, on May 26, 2012. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

“Because of our Buddhist culture we are committed to the principle of non-violence. We are an example of a small community who have remained dedicated to pursuing our struggle through non-violent means, which is why your support is so extremely valuable and I want to tell you how much I appreciate it.

“Finally, I see how many of you are waving the Tibetan flag. Chinese hard-liners often refer to our flag as a symbol of splittist tendencies, but I want to tell you that when I was in China 1954-55, I met Chairman Mao Zedong and other leaders on several occasions. Once, Chairman Mao asked me, ‘Do you have a flag?’ I hesitantly answered, ‘Yes,’ and his reply was to say, ‘Good, it is important that you keep this flag and fly it next to the red flag of China. So I feel I received permission then to fly this flag from Chairman Mao himself.”

Tomorrow afternoon, following a meeting with the press to highlight inter-religious harmony and several private meetings during the morning, His Holiness will board a flight from Vienna to return to India.


Posted on on May 26th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

For almost half a century the Dalai Lama has been a headache for China’s communist leaders. Beijing regularly denounces the Tibetan spiritual leader as a traitor and a “splittist.”

Since fleeing to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama has brought world attention to the struggle to free Tibet from China’s grasp, winning the Nobel Peace Prize and international recognition in the process.

The Dalai Lama recognizes the Sovereignty of China and wants a peaceful resolution.

Tibetans Fear for Their Future after the Dalai Lama.

While Tibetans revere him, some worry that they have come to rely too heavily on the 66-year-old leader and that his death would deeply harm their cause. “The institution of the Dalai Lama, it’s one of Tibet’s great strengths –  At the same time, it’s one of our weaknesses, because all of us are dependent on him,” said Thubten Samphel, information secretary for the exiled Tibetan government.


The Dalai Lama (Ocean of Wisdom) is in Europe for a campaign of  TIBET NEEDS YOU NOW.  He speaks to the Tibetan diaspora but also to many local friends. Former High government officials have no problem being seen on stage with him and current Heads of State meet him in private so they do not infuriate the China government. The topic is – “Occupation is Unacceptable and Oppression is Unbearable.” The events got enhanced by the fact that 35 people did self-immolate in Tibet recently – this as all form of protest of the occupation by China is forbidden and facing  jail people rather would die and sacrifice themselves to the cause. The Dalai Lama believes in peaceful resolution but as religious person will pray for the dead. Nevertheless he mentions the start of the Arab Spring with the self immolation of a man in Tunisia – and he also said that hundreds of thousands of Muslims in China have accepted the Buddhist culture and are on the side of the Tibetans.

I saw his large indoor appearance in Klagenfurt together with former Chancellor Gussenbauer, and was present at his big outdoor event at the Heldenplatz with very recent French Foreign Minister Kouchner. I read in the papers that Chancellor Faymann, Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Spindellegger, and the Head Of the Catholic Church in Austria, Kardinal Schoenborn, will meet him in private. President Heinz Fischer on the other hand seems to have decided that the ONE-CHINA policy and the fact that he is here as the Head of a Religion, does not allow him to receive the Dalai Lama. In effect,  Mr. Spindelegger, the Foreign Minister, came to the indoor meeting the Dalai Lama had with 8,000 believers at the City Hall, where the topic was “Ethics in the Modern Society.” The Dalai Lama is no more the Head of  Tibet – that position was passed on to the DHARAMSALA, India, seated Prime Minister in Exile Lobsang Sangay who moved there from his Harvard Law School position.  The Dalai Lama sees himself now only as Religious leader and warden of Tibetan culture. He recognizes the Chinese Sovereignty and hopes for a peaceful resolution. On the flag the Tibetans are displaying he said that in 1954-1955 he stayed in Peking and Chairman Mao told him that preserving the flag next to the China red flag is important. He feels thus that displaying the flag is not an anti-China move and he denies the term “splittist.” The Dalai Lama even said that who loves Tibet has to love also China – that is the right way – he said – but it still did not insure him and austria from China Government wrath.

At the Heldenplatz the signs read The People Demand the safe return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and the event is titled – EUROPEAN RALLY FOR TIBET – to be followed on and  present on the lawn were people from all over Europe – Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

Tibet is not a theocracy – it rather is a democracy that has now a parliament and a secular Prime Minister, and Mr. Bernard Kouchner suggested a EU Special Coordinator be established and an EU delegation sent to Tibet. It is ridiculous that China with 1.3 billion people is afraid of  6 million Tibetans, he said.

Barbara Stoeckl, a TV Personality did the introductions, Bianca Jagger and Francesca von Habsburg, and a young Tibetan woman from Switzerland were on stage at the outdoor event. The young Buddhist said that starting in her baby carriage, she is part of this Buddhist of Tibet rallying for Tibet culture.

Actor Maximillian Schell read at the Heldenplatz the Hermann Hesse writing appropriate to the history of these grounds in the days of Nazism, outside the Austrian Presidential Palace – “Rather be killed by the fascists then be one myself – rather be killed by the communists then be one myself.”

Professor Nusbaumer, for nearly 20 years he had been Editor-in-Chief of the influential Austrian newspaper Kurier. In 1990-1999, he held the post of Press Secretary of the President of Austria. Since 2003, Heinz Nussbaumer has been issuing the religion Die Furche magazine, a backer of Tibet and  a friend of Heinrich Harrer (Seven Years in Tibet – 1952, Lost Lhasa – 1953, ” Wherever I live, I shall feel homesick for Tibet.”) is the contact of the Tibetan soft advances and the Press.

The Dalai Lama made some further points with high relevance to our media:

Many rivers in Asia start in the Tibet snow mountains of the Himalaya – life in Asia depends on these waters. So, it is not only 6 million people’s interest, but of humanity in general. Tibetan’s involvement is important to China and India and many others. Damage to the ecology will take  a long period to recover, he said.

He went out of his way to distinguish between religion and culture. The Tibetan Culture of Peace and compassion – this is also not only a Buddhist interest – but of the whole world.

The world experiences hypocrisy and division into rich and poverty – the culture of Buddhism is one of honesty and peace and compassion – worthwhile to preserve.




I found out that the 14th Dalai Lama arrived to Vienna on Friday evening after trips to Klagenfurt and Salzeberg.

Saturday morning he had breakfast with Chancellor Faymann and Kardinal Schoenborn at the Do&Co Restaurant across from the Cathedral,  then he met with 8,000 Tibetan Buddhists and European Friends where he spoke about Ethics and Mr. Spindelegger was there also – these two events, with the Kardinal present in the first event, and the address to his people of faith on ethics, turn his visit as a representation of him being a religious and cultural leader – not a Head of State, so it does not give the Chinese government clear reason to complain. Nevertheless, complain they did!

The reaction of Austria was just as swift – all Sunday newspapers lauded the Chancellor and the Vice-Chancellor for not having given in to the China-threat and the way it was done taking all levels of diplomacy in account.

The Oesterreich writes about the Joy that Surrounded the Dalai Lama.

Die Presse starts with half of its front page saying that Austria is proud for standing up to China. The paper applauds the Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor and points a finger at the hesitancy of the President. I rather feel that these were not individual decisions – but a collective decision so built that the China protest will look ridiculous – and the Chinese obliged. By now protesting the Dalai lama has become a Chinese ritual and they seem to be stuck in their policy. The paper points at the China Tibet policy as a Nationalistic tool with which they stoke up the Han Nationalism fire – but then there is a danger that this same fire will also someday sweep out the Chinese leadership like in similar conditions it worked against Arab established governments.

The Kronen Zeitung points out the playfulness of the Dalai Lama that is contagious. The fact that at 4 years of age it was decided that he is a reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama his name changed to Tendzin Gyatsho, and he was physically moved to the Palace in Lhasa, and at age 15 declared Head of Tibet. At age 24 he had to escape to India and since then – to his present age of 66, he is fighting  against the oppression of his people.

And this is a Symbol as well, today is Pentcostal Sunday Pfingsten in German and Shawuot in Hebrew. This is Pentecost means “fiftieth day” since the Jewish Passover – or the Holiday of Freedom – the day Judaism celebrates the receiving of the laws and the covenant with God. Christianity changed this to 50 days from Easter and the arrival of the Holly Ghost. The Holly Spirit is also understood by buddhists and this law based spiritual behavior is what can link all three into a joint effort – to which the Dalai Lama insists at bringing in also the Koran obeying Muslims in which he sees allies in his homeland of Tibet as well as in the rest of the Muslim World.

The Kurrier did cover in several lines the fact that the Austrian President contended that it is his right to not be pushed into a China policy set by others. He rather wants the right to take his own correct decisions.

Tomorrow is Pentecostal Monday and we are not sure that there will be newspapers, so by Tuesday the comments about China objections may be forgotten. So might be what was said at the Sunday meeting at the Hilton hotel where The Dalai Lama and Kardinal Scoenborn discussed basically bridging-matters arising of religion. The third person at the table was moderator Professor Nusbaumer and as well an interpreter who mainly changed the English into German.

The discussion between the two star participants was mainly on personal experiences of  both being monastic monks dedicated to improving themselves and radiating these changes to the world, and help their coreligionists as well as others. The four or five questions from the audience were also about matters of faith, even if dealing with unemployed youth, the expectation of keeping a body in limbo before leaving it soul-less, the possibility of having the Buddhist Lama believe in Christ  (on this he answered that though this being a question of faith – he fully accepts the validity of the teachings of Christ) – in fairness – not my kind of questions.

Nevertheless, I had my chance, after the official meeting to ask His Highness the Dalai Lama about material relating to his statement of yesterday when he spoke about ecology, the importance of Tibet Water to the region and the whole of humanity,    and the divide between a few rich and much poverty?  I said I am asking this in context of the upcoming Rio+20 Conference and  I was promised that Mr. Tenzin Taklha, from the Office of his Holiness the Dalai Lama, will provide me the requested information. I hope to be able to present this in my next Update.

Following the Press Conference, The Dalai Lama was taken to the Vienna St.Stephen’s Cathedral – The Stephansdom. Then he was going to be returned to the Hilton hotel for two additional meetings – first for a reception with “Save the Children of Tibet” and after that to a closed meeting with the families of Mongolian Buddhists.



Posted on on January 8th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

At the start of the new millennium the Dalai Lama issued eighteen rules for living.

1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.

3. Follow the three Rs: 1. Respect for self 2. Respect for others 3. Responsibility for all your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.

6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

8. Spend some time alone every day.

9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.

10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.

11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.

12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.

13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.

14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

15. Be gentle with the earth.

16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.

18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.



1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs: 1. Respect for self 2. Respect for others 3. Responsibility for all your actions.
4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honourable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.


Posted on on June 5th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

This is something we do very seldom – take a comment that was originally intended to be added to a previous article and actually post it as well as an individual posting – this because of its actual informative value.

Comment from Robert del Rosso on June 5, 2011

RE our posting #18081 of August 20, 2010 – on the PAKISTANI FLOODS OF 2008  –

“August 19, 2010, before the UN started its meetings, the Asia Society in New York opened the discussion on the Pakistan Flood response by diving right to the bottom truth – the latest mega-disasters have one common cause – human induced climate change. It was Financier George Soros who injected the topic and the media was allowed by Ambassador Holbrooke to follow up. See what you can do when you go outside the UN!”



COLUMBUS , Ohio – Ice cores drilled last year from the summit of a Himalayan ice field lack the distinctive radioactive signals that mark virtually every other ice core retrieved worldwide.

That missing radioactivity, originating as fallout from atmospheric nuclear tests during the 1950s and 1960s, routinely provides researchers with a benchmark against which they can gauge how much new ice has accumulated on a glacier or ice field.

Lonnie Thompson made public that –  a joint U.S.-Chinese team drilled four cores from the summit of Naimona’nyi, a large glacier 6,050 meters (19,849 feet) high on theTibetan Plateau. The researchers routinely analyze ice cores for a host of indicators – particulates, dust, oxygen isotopes, etc. — that can paint a picture of past climate in that region.

Scientists believe that the missing signal means that this Tibetan ice field has been shrinking at least since the A-bomb test half a century ago. If true, this could foreshadow a future when the stockpiles of freshwater will dwindle and vanish, seriously affecting the lives of more than 500 million people on the Indian subcontinent.

“There’s about 12,000 cubic kilometers (2,879 cubic miles) of fresh water stored in the glaciers throughout the Himalayas – more freshwater than in Lake Superior,” explained Lonnie Thompson, distinguished university professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University and a researcher with the Byrd Polar Research Center on campus. “Those glaciers release meltwater each year and feed the rivers that support nearly a half-billion people in that region. The loss of these ice fields might eventually create critical water shortages for people who depend on glacier-fed streams.”


Posted on on April 2nd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

 From Anne Bayefsky

New York, April 2, 2011
Syria, the U.N. “Human Rights” Council,  and the Obama Administration.

This article by Anne Bayefsky appears today on The Weekly Standard.

The Obama administration’s effort to draw an artificial distinction between the butchers in Damascus and the gangsters in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, has taken a bizarre twist: Syria is seeking a seat on the U.N.’s top human rights body, the Human Rights Council. And, as part of the process leading up to the May 20, 2011 elections, the U.N. published a Syria’s “pledge” to protect human rights on Thursday. (that is March 30, 2011 – while the news were full of Syria represing its citizens who call out for democracy – is the whole decent world crazy or folks at the UN and in Washington are plain fakes? That seems to us the real question – the editor of

For context, this is the same pledge system that Muammar Qaddafi’s regime used to get a seat on the Council last May. Rather than refusing to legitimize a scheme that makes a mockery of the institution, the Obama administration announced hours before that it has decided to seek a second term on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The announcement comes a whopping 14 months before the U.S. term on the Council expires, making the declaration totally unnecessary to guarantee American reelection. Instead, it seems, President Obama aims to preempt mounting criticism of his decision to participate, as well as to minimize the serious menace posed by Syria’s ambitions. The move comes at precisely the wrong moment in time.

The Council was created in 2006 without any criteria for membership. The only advice given to the General Assembly says that, when electing Council members, states should “take into account the contribution of candidates to the promotion and protection of human rights and their voluntary pledges and commitments made thereto.” Hence, Syria produced a pledge.

Notwithstanding the current bloody campaign by Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad to annihilate democracy-seekers, the Syrian pledge says: “Promotion and protection of human rights are of highest importance to Syria…Syria’s candidature to the Human Rights Council signifies its commitment to respect and to support the inalienable and indivisible nature of all human rights.”

The State Department’s most recent annual report on Syria describes the situation somewhat differently. It recounts that Syrian security forces “continue to use torture frequently” and describes in gruesome detail exactly which body parts Assad’s henchmen routinely mutilate, and how.

Undaunted, Syria’s pledge continues: “Syria believes that its membership on the Human Rights Council would contribute towards enriching the quality of dialogue…aimed at the promotion and protection of human rights for all peoples.” What this means is a bit of a mystery. But perhaps this example of Syrian dialogue, from a June 8, 2010 speech at the Council, might be what the Assad regime has in mind. “This is a state that is built on hatred,” a Syrian diplomat told the Council. “Let me quote a song that children on a school bus in Israel sing merrily as they go to school and I quote ‘with my teeth I will rip your flesh with my mouth I will suck your blood.’”

Syria’s pledge is accurate on one count, though. It says: “Syria believes that its membership…would contribute to accomplish the objectives of the Council.”  Since the Council systematically demonizes Israel – the Council has adopted the same number of resolutions and decisions condemning Israel as the rest of the 191 UN countries combined – Syria’s assistance is assured.

The pledge is expected to guarantee Syria a seat on the Council because its candidacy is currently part of a fixed slate. To date, the Asian group of states have put forward exactly the same number of candidates as the spaces they have been allotted. The same gimmick by the African group last May succeeded in electing Libya, after Qaddafi pledged: “the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya is fully committed to the promotion and protection of human rights principles.” 82 percent of the U.N. General Assembly thought that was good enough to welcome Libya aboard the U.N.’s idea of a human rights agency.

Why, then, does President Obama share Syrian and Libyan enthusiasm for the Council? This week’s announcement that his administration wants a second term was accompanied by a list of responses to this question, each more specious than the next.

The justifications include: “The Council took bold, assertive action to highlight Iran’s deteriorating human rights situation.” That “bold” step consisted of a resolution appointing one individual to “investigate” Iran’s human rights violations and report back to the Council a year from now.

Then the administration pointed to “efforts to renew the mandate of the independent expert tasked with monitoring human rights throughout Sudan.” It neglects to mention, however, that the mandate was renewed only after excising all criticism of the government of  Sudan from the Council resolution and substituting such praise as: “recognizing…the efforts of the government of the Sudan in the promotion and protection of human rights.”

The U.S. list also emphasizes the president’s “pivotal role” in suspending Libyan membership from the Council. This “success” (which should never have been necessary to begin with), somehow overlooks the fact that human rights paragons and Council members like Saudi Arabia and China remain comfortably in place.

Then there is the stunning misrepresentation of “a strong statement on LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] rights” from “a group of 85 countries,” that the Obama team heralds as a “landmark moment” for the U.N. Joined by less than half of U.N. members, a mere statement carries with it no practical consequences. And just two days later, the Council adopted a contrary resolution over the wishes of the same coalition. When the resolution on “traditional values of humankind” was passed, the American delegate specifically lamented that it “undermine[d]…the rights of…LGBT individuals.”

The administration even claims to have “end[ed] the divisive debate over the highly problematic concept of ‘defamation of religions.’” But the resolution ( by the UN Council on Human Rights  – Our Comment) on religion which was adopted specifically cites as a role model a “speech given by Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu,” delivered on September 16, 2010. In that same speech, not only did Ihsanoglu refer to the defamation of religions, he declared that Islamic law trumps human rights. In his words: “the holy Quran…places a premium on human dignity — a concept that transcends human rights. Furthermore, a December 2010 resolution of the General Assembly necessitates that a report on the “defamation of religions” be completed by the fall. Making reports of its demise premature, to say the least.

Overall, U.S. membership on the Council has been so “successful” that, at its latest session, the U.S. lost eleven of the fourteen votes held.

Most significantly, the session marked the end of the Council’s own five-year review. The administration billed membership as the golden ticket for ensuring reform “from within.” As it turned out, every serious recommendation that the Obama administration put forward on reform (39 of 42) was firmly rejected, ensuring nothing but more of the same in the years ahead.

We are left with the troubling reality that both Assad and Obama are enchanted with the same U.N. Human Rights Council, to the detriment of human rights victims in Syria and around the world (writes Anne Bayefsky and she has made some points in which she discredited the whole UN system – really not just the Washington Administration. Where is the EU? Where are the African States? Where are all those despots that do or do not own oil wells? Those are Our Comments)


Membership of the Human Rights Council

Officers of the Human Rights Council

H.E. Mr. Sihasak Phuangketkeow (Thailand) (Biography)

Vice President and Rapporteur
H.E. Madam Bente Angell-Hansen (Norway)

Vice Presidents
H.E. Mr. Arcanjo Maria Do Nascimento (Angola)
H.E. Mr. Rodolfo Reyes Rodríguez (Cuba)
H.E. Mr. Fedor Rosocha (Slovakia)

Membership of the Human Rights Council 19 June 2010-18 June 2011

  • by regional groups
  • by yearCountry and year when current mandate ends.
    We noted in red countries where citizens are fighting now the government for their human rights. It seems to us that membership on the Council is tantamount to the perception of outside legitimization of the ongoing repression. That is the essence of beef that Anne Bayefsky holds against President Obama. The question is if he is better off fighting repression from inside the Council or deligitimizing the Council by staying out of it. We have no answer but we think that it is all of the UN system – its voting by regions – is what deserves deligitimization by countries that allow for democracy. It is the UN as such that does not reside in Hall of Democracy and that deserves attention five times every day.
Angola 2013
Argentina 2011
Bahrain 2011
Bangladesh 2012
Belgium 2012
Brazil 2011
Burkina Faso 2011
Cameroon 2012
Chile 2011
China 2012
Cuba 2012
Djibouti 2012
Ecuador 2013
France 2011
Gabon 2011
Ghana 2011
Guatemala 2013
Hungary 2012
Japan 2011
Jordan 2012
Kyrgyzstan 2012
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya * 2013
Malaysia 2013
Maldives 2013
Mauritania 2013
Mauritius 2012
Mexico 2012
Nigeria 2012
Norway 2012
Pakistan 2011
Poland 2013
Qatar 2013
Republic of Korea 2011
Republic of Moldova 2013
Russian Federation 2012
Saudi Arabia 2012
Senegal 2012
Slovakia 2011
Spain 2013
Switzerland 2013
Thailand 2013
Uganda 2013
Ukraine 2011
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 2011
United States of America 2012
Uruguay 2012
Zambia 2011

* Libya – Suspended by General Assembly Resolution A/65/265 adopted on 1 March 2011.

The election of 15 members of the Human Rights Council will be held on 20 May 2011.

See List of candidates | List of current members

In accordance with paragraph 7 of General Assembly resolution 60/251 the Council shall consist of 47 Member States, which shall be elected directly and individually by secret ballot by the majority of the members of the General Assembly.

The membership shall be based on equitable geographical distribution, and seats shall be distributed as follows among regional groups:

  • Group of African States (13)
  • Group of Asian States (13)
  • Group of Eastern European States (6)
  • Group of Latin American and Caribbean States (8)
  • Group of Western European and other States (7)

The members of the Council shall serve for a period of three years and shall not be eligible for immediate re-election after two consecutive terms.

Member States who have chosen to announce their candidacies in writing are listed below. Voluntary pledges that Member States have chosen to provide in support of their respective candidacies, in accordance with paragraph 8 of General Assembly resolution 60/251, are issued as General Assembly documents in all official languages.

List of candidates

Click on country name below for additional information on candidature.

African States
(4 vacant seats)
Asian States
(4 vacant seats)
Eastern European States
(2 vacant seats)
Latin American & Caribbean States
(3 vacant seats)
Western European & other States
(2 vacant seats)
Benin India
Czech Republic
Botswana [A/65/732] Indonesia Georgia Costa Rica Italy
Burkina Faso Philippines
Syrian Arab Republic


List of current members

Members outlined in bold will retire on 18 June 2011.

African States Asian States Eastern European States Latin American &
Caribbean States 
Western European
& other States
Angola 2013 Bahrain 2011 Hungary 2012 Argentina 2011 Belgium 2012
Burkina Faso 2011 Bangladesh 2012 Poland 2013 Brazil 2011 France 2011
Cameroon 2012 China 2012 Republic of Moldova 2013 Chile 2011 Norway 2012
Djibouti 2012 Japan 2011 Russian Federation 2012 Cuba 2012 Spain 2013
Gabon 2011 Jordan 2012 Slovakia 2011 Ecuador 2013 Switzerland 2013
Ghana 2011 Kyrgyzstan 2012 Ukraine 2011 Guatemala 2013 United Kingdom 2011
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya 2013 Malaysia 2013   Mexico 2012 United States 2012
Mauritania 2013 Maldives 2013   Uruguay 2012  
Mauritius 2012 Pakistan 2011      
Nigeria 2012 Qatar 2013      
Senegal 2012 Repulic of Korea 2011      
Uganda 2013 Saudi Arabia
Zambia 2011 Thailand 2013      


Austria is a candidate for the Council on the Europe and “Other States – like the US” UN ticket. We find thus quite interesting that the Salzburg Festival 2011 has cancelled the opening speech by Swiss Diplomat Jean Ziegler who represented the worst of the UN Human Rights Council. His replacement by the musical genius Daniel Barenboim is really not just an accnowledgement of his musical tallents, but also of his humanitarian activities that outshine everything that the Council was intended to be.We hope that those interested to find out more about this will follow our links. Just see some points in the remnant of this posting – please:

“UN Watch has assembled a cross-regional coalition of 45 human rights groups who will be officially demanding that the U.N. Human Rights Council fire its long-time official, ” said Neuer. “Tragically, Ziegler is not a bureaucratic anomaly or a tolerated annoyance at the council — he is the product and embodiment of a distinct political culture, where abusers like China, Cuba and Saudi Arabia get to judge others on human rights, and where murderers like Syria’s Assad get a free pass.”

Victory: Salzburg Festival cancels on U.N. rights official Jean Ziegler over Qaddafi ties.

Opening Speech and Concert of the Salzburg Festival

Barenboim will deliver the opening speech of the Salzburg Festival this year on July 26th. Previous opening speakers have included George Steiner, Václav Havel, Christoph Ransmayr, and most recently Daniel Kehlmann in 2009. On the same evening, Barenboim will conduct and perform with the Vienna Philharmonic in a program that includes Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto, Boulez’s Notations, and Bruckner’s Te Deum. Click here for exact program details.

please see also:


Posted on on August 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

August 19, 2010, before the UN started its meetings, the Asia Society in New York opened the discussion on the Pakistan Flood response by diving right to the bottom truth – the latest mega-disasters have one common cause – human induced climate change. It was Financier George Soros who injected the topic and the media was allowed by Ambassador Holbrooke to follow up. See what you can do when you go outside the UN!

Ambassador Dr. Richard C. Holbrooke, former Chairman of the Board of the Asia Society, and now US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan,  chaired the 8:30 am event at his New York home – the Asia Society – on the day when for 3:00 pm the UN General Assembly scheduled a pledging event for funding Pakistan relief. At the UN, for the US, spoke Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton, and I saw on TV  the complete  Asia Society American team sitting in the hall. The team included also Judith A. McHale, US Department of State Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Dr. George Erik Rupp, a theologian, President of the International Rescue Committee and former President of Rice University and Columbia University, and Raymond Offenheiser, President of Oxfam America.

The opening speaker after Ambassador Holbrooke was Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and the panel included also USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah. Then there was a list of guests that made their comments, followed by questions from the floor and answers from Administrator Dr. Shah and Ambassador Qureshi.


enlarge image
L to R: USAID’s Dr. Rajiv Shah, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke. (Else Ruiz/Asia Society)
Judith A. McHale, a former media head herself ( President and Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Communications – 1987 to 2006), and now with the US Government, said that information is critical. “We work with the government of Pakistan to provide the critical information on the ground. It is posted on

Among the guests were Financier George Soros, whose Open Society Institute and Soros Foundations work on the ground in Pakistan – he announced that he adds another $5 million to the funds that his foundation will work with in helping directly civil society in Pakistan,  Christopher MacCormac of the Asian Development Bank, which is leading the effort to assess the flood damage, said much of the economic infrastructure of the area has been destroyed. 2 million ha. of crops were lost and livestock have been devastated, which has taken a large toll on Pakistan farmers. ADB has said that after the immediate contribution of $3 million from the ASia-Pacific Disaster Fund, it would loan Pakistan $2 billion to help the country rebuild, and Pakistan’s rock star turned political activist Salman Ahmad, known as Pakistan’s Bono, or as Holbrooke pointed out, “Bono is the Irish Salman Ahmad,” pointed out a very important topic:

“This is a defining moment in Pakistan,” Ahmad said. “This flood has set back Pakistan in a huge way. Out of 175 million people, 100 million are under 25. Those young people are skeptical, and they feel abandoned by the world. The international community has to win hearts and minds of those 100 million youth in Pakistan.” “If there is a sluggish response the terrorists/extremists win.” He also said that last year he had a concert at the UN to show to the young people in Pakistan that there was hope – he said that he is sure the international community will react positively.

Ambassador Holbrooke said that in the catastrophe there is also an opportunity, that we should not miss –  the people in Pakistan should see that the world is ready to help. He found that these elements of hope in opportunity were missing in the day’s article in The New York Times.

For the US the strategic implications are clear. The US pulled out helicopters from the military effort in order to help in the rescue effort. Will the Taliban take advantage of this? A US transport ship with materials arrived to Karachi, and Japan will now also send helicopters to help in the rescue effort.

The meeting was summarized by The Asia Society and there is also the full tape at –…

Further, Ms. Nafis Sadik from the UN, now a Trustee Emeritus of the Asia Society and Chair of the Pakistan Foundation at the Asia Society called for Ramadan giving to the Foundation. Other Pakistan-Americans spoke and told of their own efforts to raise funds for the Pakistan relief program as the State’s capacity to meet the challenge has been overstretched. Today Pakistan , one fifth of its territory submerged, 68 million of its people affected, and 1,600 people dead, crops, animal stock, and infrastructure devastated – Pakistan is calling – humanity is calling they said. We saw a video proving every point. The Pakistan-American Foundation was inspired by Hilary Clinton’s “Pakistani Peacebuilders.”

Oxfam America was joined by “Save the Chidren” NGO  representative Gorel Bogarde said the obvious – what children most need is food, clean drinking water and shelter. She is most concerned for the moment about the outbreak of water-bourne diseases, such as cholera.

We will not repeat here further figures of loss and the size of the calamity. We assume that these are known by our readers by now – we want rather to point out the blunt comments that resulted from the statement by Mr. Soros who linked what happens to our lack of readiness to do something about the human-made climate change. Pakistan is the biggest of the recent disasters he said and we must deal with the root causes he continued. CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE ROOT CAUSE FOR ALL THESE RECENT DISASTERS. Mr. Soros spoke of the coincidence of the Himalaya glaciers melting and the monsoons getting stronger at the same time.

He also said “there is a certain amount of fatigue in responding to these disasters… [but] we have to come to terms with the fact that they are in fact connected, that there is climate change.”

At the Q & A part of the program, I asked the last question that was intended to bring the attention back to what Mr. Soros said.
My question was something like – I am with Sustainable Development Media and I wonder what Pakistan thinks about Mr. Soros’ statement about climate change – the reason being that the present calamity will repeat itself, so how does one do reconstruction work that makes sense?

Ambassador Holbrooke said Thank You and addressed the question first to Mr. Rajiv Shah.

When asked if there was a connection between the floods and climate change, USAID’s Shah said “while it’s very hard to attribute any single event to what we’re doing to our global environment it is very clear that that trend is leading to a greater number of large hurricanes, a greater number of floods, hotter and dryer conditions in places that are dependent on weather and rainfall for agriculture, and it’s making it very difficult for the least resilient, the most lower income communities of the world to survive.”

We heard from Mr. Christopher MacCormac that after the Earth Quake of 2005 the rebuilding of houses was done according to higher standards – so what we need here in the response to the present calamity is also to build better – but he did not specify, neither did Mr. Holbrooke. This, with the understanding that the increased monsoon floods,  joined with the melting of the Himalaya Glaciers, is indeed not a one time shot – but the beginning of a trend – leaves us with very bad premonitions about the future of Pakistan and other low lying lands of the region. This  has  clearly left me thinking about what means building better? Are we going to take into account these new phenomena resulting from global use of fossil fuels when going from the immediate reaction to the suffering from the floods to the longer range rebuilding stage? This is clearly an area that will be written up much more in the foreseeable future.

Ambassador Qurashi was asked by Mr. Holbrooke to react to the climate change implications. Are there additional run-off from the Himalayas?

The answer included: The Glaciers melt and what we have in Pakistan are Monsoon water plus glacier melts combined. We have above normal moisture.

He also said that “There are local NGOs in Pakistan that help push back the extremists and you have shown the world that you are a helping Nation.”


Posted on on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

from: K N Vajpai (Climate Himalaya Initiative) <>

August 19, 2010

Climate Change Updates from Himalayan Mountains on Various Climate Change Issues.

For your information, the Climate Himalaya Initiative has a dedicated news portal , that updates the Climate Change related news on regular basis from Himalayan Mountains.

Those interested in Climate Change related issues and Mountains, can get regular updates by subscribing or becoming member.

The ongoing issues includes; Pakistan Floods, Leh Cloud Burst, Climate Change Modeling, Domestic Actions by countries, Actions by Asian countries, Cancun Climate Summit, Criticism of IPCC, etc…..!

There are options for subscription, membership, tweeting, facebook, among others….!

You can visit and explore at

from – K N Vajpai
Convener and Theme Leader

Climate Himalaya Initiative
C/O Prakriti a mountain environment group
P.O. Silli, Agastyamuni, Rudraprayag
Uttarakhand, India PIN 246421


Posted on on August 19th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The ordeal in Pakistan reminded us of the –

Climate Himalaya Initiative.

An Initiative Towards Sustainable Development in Himalayan Mountains.
{This is linked to the reality of melting glaciers and increased severity of monsoon rains. Understanding the underlying causes of the present calamity is needed in order to go for long term help to the region. Talking of return to previous lives is not realistic.}

June 2, 2010

Himalayan countries must set aside their differences and  collaborate on science in order to avoid a common water crisis, says a report.

Environmental pressures, including those from climate change, could have unprecedented effects on the livelihoods of millions of people in the Hindu-Kush Himalaya region, according to the study, published by the UK-based Humanitarian Futures Programme, the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, and China Dialogue. Yet scientific research is either non-existent or, where it exists, is not shared beyond a country’s borders, said the report, ‘The Waters of the Third Pole: Sources of Threat, Sources of Survival’. And scientists are failing to communicate what they do know to the public and policymakers, it added.

The Hindu-Kush Himalaya region provides water for one fifth of the world’s population including countries stretching from Pakistan to Myanmar. “This region is a black hole for data,” said Isabelle Hilton, editor of China Dialogue and a contributor to the report.

“Managing this water requires knowledge and cooperation,” she said at the launch of the report last week (19 May) in the United Kingdom. But the region “lacks the institutions and in some cases the political will to address issues cooperatively”. History, diverse languages and cultures, and military conflicts are behind the lack of a concerted effort to study the waters, she said, and now “a multidisciplinary and collaborative approach is needed” to catch up. But this is not high on the public agenda, she said.

Stephen Edwards, an earth scientist and research manager at the Aon Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre, called for more high-quality, peer-reviewed data. “We need to understand problems before we know how to manage them,” he said. But science itself is not enough, he added, “scientists have to interact with economists and policymakers — we need proper dialogue”.

Andreas Schild, director general of the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, agreed with the report’s conclusions.”Water is one of the most important resources,” he said. “Traditionally there has been no free exchange of information on water discharge and this is practically still the case today. “It is not just a concern between countries, but even within countries, as between the individual states of India.

“Researchers in all concerned countries are very interested in having cross-border collaboration and exchange of information,” he told  SciDev.Net. “But when it comes to cooperation on concrete issues at the level of government institutions, we face a completely different situation, where agreements with various other partners in the country are required.”If you want to close the knowledge gap here in the Himalayas then you have to strengthen the institutions [there].”

Otherwise, short-term foreign development funds mean there is no consistent long-term data and continuity in research by the institutions based in the region, said Schild. But he added that European organisations, with “Europe-centric” research methods, must share the blame.

“A lot of research conducted on this region by European universities and other institutions is often not shared. Sometimes we even get the impression that they are only looking for a partner in the South to use as Sherpas.”

Link to full ‘The Waters of the Third Pole: Sources of Threat, Sources of Survival’ report


Posted on on August 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

from David Hodgkinson <>
Wed, Aug 18, 2010
Proposal for a convention for persons displaced by climate change – frequently asked questions.

We are engaged in a project which seeks to address the problem of climate change displacement.
The focus of our project is a proposal for a convention for persons displaced by climate change.

Please find attached a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about our climate change displacement convention.
The FAQs can also be found at the ‘Documents’ page of our project website –

Our proposed convention would largely operate prospectively; assistance to climate change displaced persons would be based on an assessment of whether their environment was likely to become uninhabitable due to events consistent with anthropogenic climate change such that resettlement measures and assistance were necessary.  In other words, displacement is viewed as a form of adaptation that creates particular vulnerabilities requiring protection as well as assistance through international cooperation.

If you have any questions about the paper please contact me at or on +61 402 824 832.

Best wishes


David Hodgkinson

The Hodgkinson Group

+61 402 824 832 (international)

0402 824 832 (within Australia)


Posted on on August 18th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

From: Tek Jung Mahat <> Date: 16 August 2010.

Subject: Youth Forum Empowering Youth with Earth Observation Information for Climate Actions 1-6 October 2010, ICIMOD, Kathmandu.

Dear Colleagues,

Realising the important role of young minds in ensuring sustainability in the region and to promote application of earth observation systems, particularly on climate change adaptation, we are organising a six-days long YOUTH Forum on ‘Benefiting from Earth Observation: Bridging the Data Gap for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region’, from 1-6 October 2010 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

The Youth Forum is managed by ICIMOD together with the Asia Pacific Mountain Network (APMN), Nepalese Youth for Climate Action (NYCA), GIS Society of Nepal and other local partners working on youth capacity building. We are expecting to invite some 30 youth professional to attend this programme from ICIMOD Regional Member Countries, which includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan. This initiative is being organized in the framework of SERVIR- Himalaya initiative and is supported by USAID and NASA.

We would appreciate your support in sharing this announcement with the suitable candidates and encouraging to join the forum.



On behalf of the YOUTH Forum preparation committee



The Youth Forum, 1-6 October 2010, is being organized recognising the far reaching consequences of climate change in the Himalaya and to make aware young professionals in the region about how parts of these problems can be addressed though application of modern day technologies, like earth observation (EO).

The Forum will serve as a platform to share and learn experiences regarding climate change issues, for which we will bring about 30 youth climate enthusiasts from the region , who will be familiarised with potential benefits of EO derived information and demonstrated relevant practical actions.

The Youth Forum is one of the key attractions of the International Symposium on ‘Benefiting from Earth Observation: Bridging the Data Gap for Adaptation to Climate Change in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan Region’, 4 – 6 October 2010 being organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain development (ICIMOD) together with the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the GIS Development, India.

The event will provide opportunity among youths to familiarize with basic RS/GIS skills with practical hands-on sessions, demonstrate case studies related to use of EO in climate actions, internet related resources and project work to take local action in community. This initiative is being organized in the framework of SERVIR- Himalaya initiative and is supported by USAID and NASA.

Who should apply?

Young climate change enthusiasts, media persons, youth activists, development professionals etc. However you don’t have to be an expert on earth observation, climate change or mountain development, but you should have familiarity with the environmental issues mountains are facing and a strong commitment to contribute towards problem solving process with the use of modern tools and approaches like EO, particularly in the context of changing climate, which has posed serious threats to mountain ecosystems.

Young professionals of 18 to 29 years of age (by September 1, 2010) and coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan are eligible to apply. Please use this form to apply for the youth forum. All applications will be reviewed by an international review committee. Based on the evaluation of the quality of the application by the review committee and taking into account the need for a balanced group in regard to scientific discipline, geographical background and gender, about 30 applications will be accepted for participation in the Forum. Accepted applicants will be notified by 6 September 2010.

Please note, all the accepted applicants are expected to prepare a poster (hand-made or printed or in any other forms) reflecting their understanding about mountain environment, earth observation and climate change adaptation or any other relevant topics. Further details on this will be communicated later.

In case you have any problems in accessing the application form please write to

Financial support:

Participation cost (round-trip airfare, local transport, and food and accommodation in Kathmandu during the Youth Forum will be covered by ICIMOD)

Important dates and links:

Application deadline 1 September

Selection notification 6 September

Youth Forum 1-6 October

Event details:

Application form: OR

Tek Jung Mahat, Node Manager

Asia Pacific Mountain Network (APMN)

International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development

GPO Box 3226, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Tel +977-1-5003222 Ext 104 Fax +977-1-5003277 Web AND E-mail


Posted on on August 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Oldest university on earth is reborn after 800 years.

Nalanda, an ancient seat of learning destroyed in 1193, will rise again thanks to a Nobel-winning economist.

By Andrew Buncombe

Wednesday, 4 August 2010.

  • The Independent

The ruins of Nalanda, the 2,000-year-old Buddhist University near Rajgir in the northern part of India

The ruins of Nalanda, the 2,000-year-old Buddhist University near Rajgir in the northern part of India.

During the six centuries of its storied existence, there was nothing else quite like Nalanda University. Probably the first-ever large educational establishment, the college – in what is now eastern India – even counted the Buddha among its visitors and alumni. At its height, it had 10,000 students, 2,000 staff and strove for both understanding and academic excellence. Today, this much-celebrated centre of Buddhist learning is in ruins.

After a period during which the influence and importance of Buddhism in India declined, the university was sacked in 1193 by a Turkic general, apparently incensed that its library may not have contained a copy of the Koran. The fire is said to have burned and smouldered for several months.

Now this famed establishment of philosophy, mathematics, language and even public health is poised to be revived. A beguiling and ambitious plan to establish an international university with the same overarching vision as Nalanda – and located alongside its physical ruins – has been spearheaded by a team of international experts and leaders, among them the Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen. This week, legislation that will enable the building of the university to proceed is to be placed before the Indian parliament.

“At its peak it offered an enormous number of subjects in the Buddhist tradition, in a similar way that Oxford [offered] in the Christian tradition – Sanskrit, medicine, public health and economics,” Mr Sen said yesterday in Delhi.

“It was destroyed in a war. It was [at] just the same time that Oxford was being established. It has a fairly extraordinary history – Cambridge had not yet been born.” He added, with confidence: “Building will start as soon as the bill passes.”

The plan to resurrect Nalanda – in the state of Bihar – and establish a facility prestigious enough to attract the best students from across Asia and beyond, was apparently first voiced in the 1990s. But the idea received more widespread attention in 2006 when the then Indian president, APJ Abdul Kalam set about establishing an international “mentoring panel”. Members of the panel, chaired by Mr Sen, include Singapore’s foreign minister, George Yeo, historian Sugata Bose, Lord Desai and Chinese academic Wang Banwei.

A key challenge for the group is to raise sufficient funds for the university. It has been estimated that $500m will be required to build the new facility, with a further $500m needed to sufficiently improve the surrounding infrastructure. The group is looking for donations from governments, private individuals and religious groups. The governments of both Singapore and India have apparently already given some financial commitments.

Mr Sen said the new Nalanda project, whose ancestor easily predated both the University of Al Karaouine in Fez, Morocco – founded in 859 AD and considered the world’s oldest, continually-operating university, and Cairo’s Al Azhar University (975 AD), had already attracted widespread attention from prestigious institutions. The universities of Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Paris and Bologna had all been enthusiastic about possible collaboration.

Some commentators believe a crucial impact of the establishment of a new international university in India would be the boost it gave to higher education across Asia. A recent survey of universities by the US News and World Report magazine listed just three Asian institutions – University of Tokyo, University of Hong Kong and Kyoto University – among the world’s top 25.

Writing when plans for Nalanda were first announced, Jeffery Garten, a professor in international business and trade at the Yale School of Management, said in the New York Times: “The new Nalanda should try to recapture the global connectedness of the old one. All of today’s great institutions of higher learning are straining to become more international… but Asian universities are way behind.” He added: “A new Nalanda could set a benchmark for mixing nationalities and culture, for injecting energy into global subject. Nalanda was a Buddhist university but it was remarkably open to many interpretations of that religion. Today, it could… be an institution devoted to global religious reconciliation.”

As Mr Garten pointed out, the new university will have much to live up to. The original, located close to the border with what is now Nepal, was said to have been an architectural masterpiece, featuring 10 temples, a nine-storey library where monks copied books by hand, lakes, parks and student accommodation. Its students came from Korea, Japan, China, Persia, Tibet and Turkey, as well as from across India. The 7th Century Chinese pilgrim, Xuanzang, visited Nalanda and wrote detailed accounts of what he saw, describing how towers, pavilions and temples appeared to “soar above the mists in the sky [so that monks in their rooms] might witness the birth of the winds and clouds”.

Yet the project is not without controversy. Mr Sen was yesterday asked about reports that claimed the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader who has lived for more than 50 years in the Indian town of Dharamsala, had been deliberately omitted from the project to avoid antagonising potential Chinese investors and officials. He replied: “He is heading a religion. Being religiously active may not be the same as [being] appropriate for religious studies.”

The Indian authorities believe the establishment of the college would act as a global reminder of the nation’s history as a centre of learning and culture. Politician Nand Kishore Singh, who sits on the country’s influential federal planning commission and who is also a member of Nalanda’s steering group, said legislation would be placed before the parliament this week. He added: “I think there is strong bi-partisan support.”