Friday, February 18, 2011

Some reflections on L'Affaire Karmapa

The ‘Affaire Karmapa’ seems to have come full circle.
G.K. Pillai, the Home Secretary assured a delegation of Buddhist leaders from the Himalayan region that the Government of India does not consider the Karmapa as a spy.
Pillai also advised the delegation to press on the Karmapa to make sure his staff dutifully follows the Indian system of accounting and hires a proper Chartered Accountant.
With this happy outcome, it is perhaps time to reflect:
  • I am happy that the conclusions I had arrived at in my first article in (The Karmapa story: Right intentions, bad accounting) have proved correct.
  • Why all this noise?
    The ‘tabloid’ TV channels are greatly responsible for it. Once again they have shown that they are totally irresponsible. It is frightening to think that most of the information offered to us by these channels is just plain falsehood. it is sad that the Prime Minister chose to answer questions from the same great editors during his recent Press Conference. It does not speak very highly of the people handling the Prime Minister’s communication (if there are any). The written and electronic press, with the exception of a few, has been more responsible.
  • The Dhumal government has come out in a poor light, principally the DGP who did not miss an occasion to run to the same TV channels to break some news or another, mostly unfounded allegations fed by the Shamar side. It is surprising that the BJP leader (Dhumal) could not see that feeding false charges against the Karmapa, would only upset the Buddhist populations of his Himalayan State. Why should they vote for him during the next elections? Dhumal has made bad (and unethical) political calculations.
    It also speaks poorly of the BJP national leaders who always pretend to support the Tibetans, particularly LK Advani. He shoud have intervened to cool down the Chief Minister and his Police Chief.
  • The problem of the benami land purchase remains unsolved in Himachal Pradesh. One can only hope that the HP government will now apply its mind to find a reasonable solution. Since a long time the Dalai Lama has been asking Simla to look into the issue, which is not an easy one, but as I mentioned in an earlier posting (Almost every tourist property is owned by non-Himachalis) there can’t be double standards (one for Tibetan refugees and one rich Punjabis).
  • From the start, I said that a modern religious leader has to look into ‘secular’ affairs and the young Karmapa should take interest in the day-to-day administration of his labrang (monasteries and trusts). There is no way out.
  • Considering that the intelligence agencies are keeping a close tap on the Karmapa for the past 11 years, they should it bring to his notice when something goes wrong or if some elements around him do not behave properly.
  • The Karmapa should make greater efforts to come in touch with the ‘common man’ of HP and India. He should employ knowledgeable Indians to advise on ‘secular’ matters and the laws of the country where he has taken refuge. He should also try to meet national leaders whenever he passes through New Delhi or when leaders visit HP.
  • The Karmapa should perhaps try to meet the ‘other’ Karmapa (Trinley Thaye Dorje) and see if the ‘war’ of succession could be sorted out amicably. The on-going battle is hurting the Tibetan cause and the image of the Kargyu tradition. The present affair is the direct outcome of the ‘succession war’
  • A positive point: after the remarks of the Home Secretary, I am sure that the Trust of the Karmapa will be allotted a FRCA number, allowing him to keep proper records of foreign donations. If this incident had not happened, the Trust would have probably had to wait for years before getting its registration. Now, the ball is in Mr Pillai’s Court to recognize the Karmae Garchen Trust set up in 2006 (contrary to what Mr Pillai said, an application under the FRCA was filed in November 2010).
  • Senior journalist Sunanda Datta-Ray recently complained that the ‘breaking the news’ channels were nowhere to be seen when hundreds of people of the Himalayan region organized a prayer meeting in Jantar Mantar in Delhi: “I saw nothing in the media about this dazzling show with a serious purpose. Why? One of the organisers had a pithy explanation. “The media doesn’t believe in the power of prayer, they would have taken notice if we had thrown stones!” wrote Datta-Ray.
    The fact that the name of Karmapa was cleared a few days after the meeting tends to demonstrate that prayer can still be powerful, even if the news channels are not aware of it.
Buddhist leaders meet Home Sec. for Karmapa
February 17, 2011 
Smt. Spalzes Angmo, Buddhist Member in the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) led a nine member delegation of Buddhist leaders and monks from Sikkim and Ladakh to the Home Secretary, Mr. G.K. Pillai at North Block on 16th February, 2011 at 4.30 pm. The delegation pressed upon the Home Secretary that the sentiments of the Buddhist community of Ladakh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh were deeply hurt by the allegations levelled by the media, intelligence agencies and state government of Himachal Pradesh that His Holiness the 17th Karmapa was a Chinese spy. They further added that the people of the Himalayan region are nationalists and patriotic to the core and have fought wars on the borders to defend their motherland.
The Home Secretary assured the delegation that the Centre did not regard His Holiness the 17th Karmapa to be a Chinese spy and that the office of His Holiness the 17th Karmapa should be advised to have knowledge of the existing laws and to hire Chartered accountants to manage the funds in a proper manner and register the trust under Foreign Contribution and Regulatory Act (FCRA). After the probe it was found that the cash received was part of donation and offerings.
The Delegation had earlier met the UPA Chairperson Madam Sonia Gandhi on 12th February, 2011. UPA Chairperson had assured the delegation that she would look into the matter so that the sentiments of the people would be assuaged.
In the light of the above, Smt. Spalzes Angmo would like to thank the UPA Chairperson, Madam Sonia Gandhi Ji, Union Home Minister Shri P. Chidamabaram and Shri G.K. Pillai, Union Home Secretary for respecting the sentiments of the Buddhists community of Ladakh Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh by giving a clean chit to His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Urgen Thinley Dorje and for restoring the dignity of the Karmapa institution.
This would go a long way in keeping the unity and integrity of the country alive.

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