TWA request decision to ban Tibetan content in ‘Rockstar’ is revoked

Dharamsala, November 9: This is TWA’s petition to Chairperson of India’s Central Board of Film Certification, in response to the decision to ban Tibetan content in ‘Rockstar’. Please also sign this petition to voice your disapproval of the board’s decision.

Smt. Leela Samson, Chairperson

Central Board of Film Certification

Bharat Bhavan

91-E Walkeshwar Road,

Mumbai 400 006

Subject: Request for the revision of the board’s decision to ban Tibet in ‘Rockstar’

Respected Smt. Leela Samson,

In the wake of the directive received by the makers of the Bollywood film ‘Rockstar’ from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to censor the minute portrayal of the Tibetan National Flag and the slogans signifying the Tibetan struggle, we are calling on the CBFC to reconsider and rescind their decision which is an affront to the dignity of the six million Tibetans and a shameful violation of freedom of speech and expression.

The fact that the Censor Board finds these depictions objectionable is illogical, radical and biased and not befitting the eminence and role of the Censor board.

Films are a creative medium for expression and Bollywood is an entity that embodies freedom of speech and expression, and is thus respected internationally. Deleting minute references to Tibet in a song sequence from the film ‘Rockstar’ will in the longer run jeopardize the image, spirit and prestige of Bollywood and India’s fundamental values.

It is noteworthy that this monumentally wrong decision was taken in the light of the Cinematography Act, 1952, and the principles for guidance in certifying films, issued by the Central Government under section 5B(2), particularly- clause 2, point xvi- ‘friendly relations with foreign States are not strained’. We do not believe displaying the ‘Tibetan National Flag’ and the ‘Free Tibet’ banner in the song ‘Sadda Haq’ will threaten India’s relations with China especially when the Indian Government have themselves hosted more than 100,000 Tibetans on Indian soil for the last 52 years and have not objected to the Tibetan freedom struggle.

Unlike China, India is a democratic country with strong commitment to the Freedom of Speech and Expression. “Liberty of thought, expression, and belief” serves as the bedrock foundation of the nation’s constitution. Unfounded fear of strained relationship with China should not compromise the core values that formed this great nation of India.

This aberrant action by the Censor Board – which functions under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India – sets a dangerous precedence that allow brutal regimes like China to be off limit from any scrutiny in Indian films for the fear of straining ‘friendly relationship’. With this precedence, should there be a film based on the Tibetan struggle in the near future as inklings suggest, would the Censor board ban the entire film? Does the guidelines of the Censor board supersede core values as enshrined in the constitution of India?

We are also aware of the recent Mumbai trip (November 3-6) of Xinjiang governor Nur Bekry who welcomed Bollywood to China.

We urge the board to reconsider its decision and not bow and scrape under the authoritative and controlling nature of Chinese government. We hope that the Baord will stand up for Indian values and for the ideals they embody as enshrined in the Constitution of India.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Dolkar Lhamo Kirti

President

Tibetan Women’s Association

twa@tibetanwomen.org / www.tibetanwomen.org

The Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) is the second largest Tibetan Non Governmental Organization (NGO) based in exile India and the only women’s NGO in Tibetan history. We are today a 16,000 member organization with 56 chapters in four continents; Asia, US. Europe and Australia. TWA‘s slogan is ‘Advocacy for Home and Action in Exile.’

Cc: Ambika Soni, Minister, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Mr. Pankaj Thakur, CEO, Central Board of Film Certification

Imtiaz Ali, Director, Rockstar

Dhillin Mehta, Producer, Rockstar

nuns_empowerment_training

TWA’s 3rd Annual Tibetan Nun’s Leadership Training successfully completed – report

Reporting from ‘Empowerment through Action Desk’ of TWA

nuns_empowerment_trainingContemporary Tibetan history stands testimony to the courage and leadership of Tibetan nuns in Tibet. Since 1959, nuns have displayed these virtues by initiating and participating in the peaceful demonstrations on the streets of Lhasa and across Tibet. Tibetan Women’s Association felt the tremendous need to address the issue of nuns’ leadership and empowerment, to better enable nuns to further their individual goals and pursue the national interest.

The “Empowerment through Action Desk” of the Tibetan Women’s Association organized the ‘Third Annual Tibetan Nuns Leadership Training’ from April 25 to 29 at the Shugseb Nunnery, Garoh. Funded by “Science meets Dharma” (a foundation aspiring to introduce science to Buddhist monks and nuns), the training was attended by twenty five nuns from eleven different nunneries based in Dharamsala, Garoh, Ladakh, Dehradun, Tashijong, Tilokpur, Solan and Kathmandu (Nepal).

Four trainers from TWA- Dhardon Sharling, Nyima Lhamo, Tenzin Dolma and Tenzin Woebum-, and three resource speakers- Dr. B Tsering Yeshi (former president of TWA and current coordinator for Science Meets Dharma), Tenzin Tseyang (Women’s Empowerment Desk of CTA) and Dr. Sonam Wangmo from Mentsekhang-, led the five-day training.

The morning yoga session was led by veteran yoga master Choedhar.

Day One;

The Minister for Culture and Religion (Kalon), Rev. Tsering Phuntsok, graced the opening ceremony as the chief guest and Kasur Rinchen Khando, the executive director of the Tibetan Nuns Project, as the special guest.

Kalon Tsering Phuntsok said, “culturally both sexes were designated with different forms of work such as men doing farming and business and while women took care of household chores and this shows the existence of gender inequality based on traditional beliefs, but these days we see a more sensitized society where women and men do almost everything up to their level best.”

“But the most important part of such empowerment programs is that the trainees should be able to grasp, understand and implement what is being taught during the training” said the minister for Religion and Culture.

Kasur Rinchen Khando congratulated the nuns for taking hold of the momentous opportunity being provided to them. “Empowering oneself is the greatest empowerment and this can be achieved by asking, analysing, enquiring and seeking knowledge and finally implementing and making the best use of what you have learnt” she said.

 

After the special tea break was the introductory session, where participants and trainers introduced themselves. Dr. Sonam Wangmo from Mentsekhang (Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute) led the afternoon session on ‘Women’s Health and its Implications’. Dr. Sonam spoke on health issues of particular import to women, and led a 45- minute question and answer session, which saw a good flow of questions from participants.

 

This was followed by a session on creative communication led by TWA trainer Dhardon Sharling. The participants worked in groups according to the nunneries to which they belonged, each group preparing a visual presentation on ‘Life in my nunnery’, which could be either chart presentation or a skit. The most important thing was about being able to communicate with creativity.

 

After dinner was a documentary film-screening; featuring His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 19th March 2011 speech on His devolution of political authority. Though the screening ran for two and a half hours and though the nuns had a long day, the participants had constructive views and opinions to share after the screening.

 

Day Two

The second day of the training witnessed Tibetan resource persons lead very informative sessions for our participants. Dr. B Tsering Yeshi (former president of TWA and current coordinator for Science Meets Dharma), led the morning session on, ‘Science and Buddhism – imbibing the best of both’. To begin with, Dr. B Tsering la explained more about Science Meets Dharma and its work since its initiation, and explicated important concepts. Participants were then organised into groups, with each discussing a different statement concerning a concept in science or Buddhism. Each group presented their discussion to the other participants (giving points both for and against their statements); some had lots to share and greatly impressed our resource person. The crux of the session was a message of taking the best of both Buddhism and Science, letting the two work together and never judging which is better. Dr. B Tsering la concluded her session with some encouraging words, asking the nuns to seize opportunities, for example attending the ample workshops and trainings on ‘Science and Buddhism’ made available.

 

Tenzin Tseyang, (Women’s Empowerment Desk of CTA) led the afternoon session on Women’s Empowerment; where she explained what women’s empowerment is; the dimensions of power; why there is a need to empower women; and the aspects of empowerment. The participants agreed that women’s empowerment is important, because women constitute half of the population. They agreed that there is dire need for equal involvement of women in decision making and policy development or planning at both community and national levels. Tseyang also gave a power point presentation, which was explicit enough for the nuns to understand the concepts and the significance of women’s empowerment. Our participants had a close look at the demographic survey conducted by CTA in 2009 which showed how many men and women work at CTA and how many women there are at different decision making levels. Most of the participants confessed that they never understood what women’s empowerment was about until that date. They took pleasure in learning new concepts and look forward to building on their understanding.

 

The evening saw a screening of a VOT organized panel discussion on the topic, ‘Women’s Empowerment’. The panellists included Mrs. Gyari Dolma, the deputy speaker of TPIE, Mrs. Tsering Yangkey, founding director of TEAM, and Lugar Jam, independent researcher. The participants learned that every woman has the potential and the capacity to accomplish bigger things, that opportunities for women persist and that therefore it is imperative for woman themselves to develop. The panellists inspired the participants to a great extend.

 

“One is Not BORN, but rather becomes a Woman” – Simone de Beauvoir

 

Day Three

 

Four trainers from TWA- Dhardon Sharling, Nyima Lhamo, Tenzin Dolma and Tenzin Woebum- led the remaining days of training.

 

The morning session began with a presentation on ‘Women and Leadership’ by Nyima Lhamo. The presentation showcased six prolific and accomplished women: Mother Teresa, Aishwarya Rai, J.K Rowling, Navenetham Pillay, Sonia Gandhi and Jetsun Pema la. After the presentation, the participants were divided into six teams and each group had to defend one iconic woman of their choice. The TWA trainers sat as judges with the power to save only one of the women; thus, the groups had to convince the judges to save their chosen woman. In the process of convincing the judges, our participants were helped to realise that they had potential equal to those iconic women, that sheer hard work, determination and unyielding struggle made those women icons, and that we should all take a leaf from their chapters.

 

Thereafter, our participants played some mind-stimulating games, the practical play of which taught them a few important things. The participants had lots of fun trying to solve the puzzles and  effectively implement the tasks. After lunch, the theme was working as a team and team effectiveness; in groups they had to solve “the square puzzle”, played a ball game and “crossing the border”. Each game showed the importance of discussion, team planning, allocating roles according to various skills, strategic thinking, etc. The participants laughed a lot during “crossing the border” as the ropes got higher: this was the point where their planning and strategic thinking played major roles.

After the tea break, Dhardon Sharling led a session on Goal Setting and Visualisation, with a focus on the importance of keeping ones goal SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). The participants enjoyed the session thoroughly, becoming engrossed in their role play exercise on Visualisation; in this exercise, participants had to visualize and accordingly act on the scenarios: visit Amdo Ngaba for one day; meeting Hu Jinato for one hour; meeting Obama for one hour; forming the cabinet of the Tibetan Government in Exile for one day. The participants performed very well and their visualization process was very impressive.

 

The training also saw ‘Climate Night’, where TWA WEDD staff Tenzin Woebum introduced Tibet as the third pole and spoke extensively on, ‘Our responsibility in the age of Climate change’. In the evening, the 25 nun participants each took a pledge to contribute to combating the climate crisis and promoting climate justice. The climate pledge session was filmed and is being edited by our WEDD officer Woebum. Upon its completion, we will send you its youtube link.

 

Day Four

 

Day four was practical. Our participants began implementing the leadership theories they had learnt over the past three days.

 

The nuns were divided into four groups and given two hours time to draft a project proposal under the broad theme of social service. They had a limited budget of Rs. 1000, and would have only the time from 2 pm to 6.30 pm to complete the project. Rev. Lobsang Dechen la, the assistant director of Tibetan Nuns Project kindly accepted our invitation to judge the project presentations. The nuns looked uncertain and hesitant while drafting their proposals: they had to draft proposals in two hours, with a limited budget, for a project that could be implemented in four hours. However, when they returned to the venue at 6:30pm, they all expressed contentment and gratification over the successful completion of their projects.

 

Group A had seven members who divided themselves into three parts. Two of them visited and gave handkerchiefs to thirty residents of Jampaling, the old people’s home at Lhagyalri (Mcleod Ganj), while two remained at Shugseb and gave a health talk to the nuns at Shugseb nunnery, proceeding to do the same at the Jamyang Choeling nunnery. The remainder of the team went to Nyingtogpling (a centre for physically challenged children) and gave a talk on how to be happy and how to balance and control ones mind.

 

Group B were very creative and innovative. They organised a health talk and yoga class for twenty nuns at Gaden Choeling nunnery in Mcleod Ganj. It was impressive to see how they divided their time line and budget, and determined who would do what, when, how and why. The clarity of their project, and the precision with which they were committed to the project, impressed the panellists and they grabbed the complimentary prize of Rs. 500 over the Rs. 1000 provision for project implementation.

 

Group C also went to Nyingtogpling but with a motive to spread happiness. To this end, they brought game kits- which included badminton rackets, balls, balloons and skipping ropes-, and also some goodies and fruits and spent few hours with the children of Nyingtogpling.

 

Group D’s project looked simple but in reality was effective in the longer run. and catered to a broader global theme – the environment. They proposed to buy and plant eight eco friendly and health friendly trees at Shugseb nunnery; one of the members belonging to Shugseb took on the responsibility of watering the plants.

 

From 7pm, the evening session saw participants expressing their views on how their project implementation went, with a focus on what went right and what went wrong. Some of them expressed having learned about the various ways of contributing to the community and that they were happy that they could do something that day. Many confessed it was the first time they had planned and implemented a project that included public speaking, lecturing, meeting people, counselling them and purchasing necessary items.

 

The day’s training taught the participants on the importance of: planning, team management, creative communication, effective thinking, realistic approaches and practical implementation.

 

Day Five

 

The morning session of the final day of the training saw the nuns sitting in groups according to the nunnery they belonged to (thus we had eleven different groups). They were given two hours to discuss and draft an action plan on, ‘what they will do to empower nuns in their nunnery for the next one year until the fourth Annual Nuns Leadership Training’. TWA trainers acted as mentors, helping the nuns to give a practical outline to their plans. Before lunch each group presented their action plan and received ‘feed-forward’ from participant and TWA trainers. Taking this advice on board, the groups reworked their plans and TWA adopted the final action-plans by printing each under TWA’s letter head, endorsed with a seal. Each group procured two copies of the action plan, keeping one for themselves and giving one to TWA.

 

TWA’s ETA Desk looks forward to following up with the groups, and have requested each to report to TWA’s ETAD coordinator with written reports and pictures as they implement their plans. We also plan to visit the nunneries which are in close proximity to Dharamsala, to see and observe as the nuns implement their action plans. Most action plans focused on teaching and sharing the skills they learned from this training with the other nuns at their nunneries, for example: teaching yoga, planting plants, organizing resource talks and trainings, managing garbage and fruit enzymes, and generally sharing the skills learned. We shall keep our partner and sponsor updated as we follow-up with the participants throughout the year.

 

Rev. Lobsang Dechen la appreciated “Science meets Dharma” and Tibetan Women’s Association and graced the concluding function with a motivational speech encouraging the participants to make the most of their futures. The participants were each accorded certificates, traditional Tibetan white scarves, and a TWA WEDD bag carrying environmental messages and a pack of TWA’s publications.

 

The participants and the trainers had an afternoon recreation together, visiting the religious site (Kangra Lhamo) and enjoying a special dinner at the Kangra Fort.

 

Conclusion

The TWA trainers are now convinced that the successful completion of the training gives nuns a unique opportunity to stand on the threshold of the creative process of building leadership skills, and the courage to reach for higher levels of achievement; it thus treads the path of effective change. The training opened new avenues for nuns’ leadership in the Tibetan community and sought to broaden the horizons and prospects of leadership and shed the conventional connotation of leadership.

 

The 25 nuns who attended the training expressed in their feedback that, through this training, they had begun to explore the talents they possessed that could be harnessed not only for furthering their own potential, but also for the benefit of wider society. TWA is confident that this training will be a new milestone of inspiration for the nuns to contribute constructively to the Tibetan freedom struggle and to the promotion of Dharma.

 

In their feedback, the nuns requested TWA to organize more such trainings (if possible, twice a year), and also requested TWA to visit their nunneries and train more nuns there. Thus their feedback was fully positive and TWA’s ETA Desk and the trainers consider the training to have been a great success, which we look forward to taking even higher. We also look forward to enthusiastic and lively participation from our future participants.

This training is the third in the series and we remain indebted to Mr. Kalsang Chokteng la, Managing Director of “Science meets Dharma”, a project of Tibet Institute Rikon, for funding all the nuns’ leadership trainings held so far (since 2009). We also look forward to your continued support in the coming years, just as many of our participants wish to see continuity of similar trainings.

 

TWA’s ETA Desk remains thankful to all the participants for attending the workshop and we hope that this training will be a channel of positive change and inspiration for the nuns. TWA feels the need to do a lot of projects to empower and serve the Tibetan community, but one of the greatest barriers has always been the scarcity of funds. Therefore, we wholeheartedly thank “Science Meets Dharma” for their generous financial support.

TWA’s primary goal is to advocate the rights of the Tibetan women inside Tibet and to empower the Tibetan women in exile. TWA’s Empowerment through Action Desk (ETAD) was founded in May 2009 and the desk exists to strengthen and support the aims of TWA by ensuring that programs are accessible and presented with excellence. The ETAD provides a central point of contact of resources for Tibetan women in exile, while effectively coordinating empowerment programs in culturally appropriate and gender sensitive ways.

 

TWA’s ETAD imparts leadership and empowerment actions which include the Advanced Tibetan Women’s Leadership Training, the Annual Young Tibetan Women’s Leadership Program, the All India Gender Sensitization Training and the Annual Tibetan Nuns Leadership Training.

 

Feedback from the participants:

 

It is a good platform to introduce new concepts to the nuns and I appreciate TWA for having thought of this program. You should continue with it- thank you very much, I had a great time here with all the participants and the trainers.”

Ngawang Tendol, Kyidong Thukje Choeling, Nepal.

 

Thank you so much for everything and for including the nuns from Ladakh into your programs”

Ani Tenzin Palmo, Ladakh Nuns Association, Ladakh.

 

I hope to see this program being conducted every year because it is really helpful”

Lobsang Wangmo, Yung Drung Bon monastic Centre, Solan.

 

Such workshops not only impart knowledge, but build confidence and self esteem to our nuns. I hope our nuns can thus contribute and participate to better our community. Thank you for inviting the nuns from here.”

– Namgyal L. Taklha, Advisor to the Drikung Kagyu Samtenling nuns

 

Also view the photographs on Flickr.

Third Annual Tibetan Nun’s Leadership Training

Third Annual Tibetan Nun’s Leadership Training

Third Annual Tibetan Nun’s Leadership Training

Third Annual Tibetan Nun’s Leadership Training

Third Annual Tibetan Nun’s Leadership Training

Third Annual Tibetan Nun’s Leadership Training

Third Annual Tibetan Nun’s Leadership Training

empowerment_program_dickyiling

TWA undertakes empowerment program to remote Tibetan communities – report

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan Community in Exile: an undertaking of TWA’s Empowerment through Action Desk and supported by KIOS, the Finnish NGO for Human Rights.

– a direct outreach and empowerment program in three Asian countries: India, Nepal and Bhutan, to include 37 remote regions of the Tibetan Exile Diaspora.

empowerment_program_dickyilingTibetan Women’s Association is proud to inform our readers that TWA’s Empowerment through Action Desk (ETAD) leaders toured and trained 16 Tibetan settlements in India, Nepal and Bhutan. Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy (ESD) in the Tibetan Community in Exile is a project supported by KIOS. The six month project was initiated in October 2010 starting in Nepal, Kalimpong, Gangtok, Darjeeling, Ravangla and Ladakh, with continuation of the project from January to March 2011 which included Bhutan, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

BHUTAN: We successfully visited and conducted training on Democracy, Human Rights and Women’s Empowerment at settlements in Bhutan (Khasakha, Kapchisa, Bhoekarna, Hongtso, Jigmenang and Paro) during the month of January 2011.

The Tibetans living in Bhutan had mixed feelings hearing about our arrival in the region. This may in part be due to the political situation currently experienced by the Tibetans in Bhutan. Other possibilities may be caused by feelings of exclusion from the majority populace of exiled Tibetans living in India due to the geographic distance.

Tibetans living in Bhutan were provided the opportunity to cast their vote on March 22, 2011. Many Tibetans were concerned they would not be allowed to cast their votes because during the preliminary election their ballot boxes were confiscated and the preliminary votes were not counted. With so much uncertainty of not being able to exercise their basic democratic right (the right to franchise), the people in Bhutan didn’t seem content. The most difficult part of the training was while travelling to the settlements; our team (President Dolkar Lhamo and ETAD officer Nyima Lhamo) had to masquerade like pilgrims, trying to appear least politically engaged to ensure the security of the lives of the Tibetans living there.

The turnout for the trainings remained low with only 25 – 30 at all the places. Although, during the trainings across the settlements, individuals took time to open up and mingle with TWA representatives. It was the first time in Bhutan that people got to hear or experience an actual training program; we speculate that some of them had their greatest laughs of their life while playing the mind games. Since the difficult political situation for Tibetans in Bhutan started they have hardly had any access to what is happening in the Tibetan communities outside Bhutan. Moreover, the majority of the Tibetans living in Bhutan are senior citizens and many are illiterate. It was a great challenge in teaching them the concepts, the rules, and the regulations related to the election process; but we as trainers and representatives put our best foot forward. Many of them said that they never expected the program could help them so much. In addition, people acknowledged the importance of such training and education.

MEGHALAYA and ARUNACHAL PRADESH: TWA’s joint secretary Tenzin Dolma and ETAD’s staff Nyima Lhamo visited the Tibetan settlements in north east India: Shillong, Tezu, Miao and Tenzinghang in the month of February 2011.

Tibetans living in Shillong are essentially business people (they run shops and restaurants) and they have busy lives. We were extremely impressed with the turnout for the two day program considering the scheduling issues with running a business. The participants were lively, knowledgeable and well informed of the candidates and the process for the upcoming election. In addition, it was interesting to see some young boys and girls educated from non-Tibetan schools take active participation; they aired their views and expressed their willingness to make the best use of their basic fundamental rights. Some of them also confessed that it is the first time they were able to attend a training organised by a Tibetan organization (like TWA) and they were not feeling let down by the program. Some of them claimed that most Tibetans are so involved with their personal needs and greed that this program proved to be a wakeup call to all, reminding everyone about our rights and responsibilities to be exercised.

The Tibetan settlement at Tezu was a beautiful place that embraced us with green scenery all around and bits of moisture due to soft rains. The settlement was easy to maneuvre among, with everything so close and easily accessible. Miao Tibetan settlement embraced us with similar feelings and it was encouraging to see the turnout of people attending the two-day training.

At both these settlements, the most striking thing that sought our attention was when we entered the training venue to find only women participants. We inquired with the regional executives if they sent the invitation to the masses; which included all men to also attend the training. People around there have the misperception that men have nothing to do with a TWA program. The immediate question we had was whether men there vote or not? It was a little sad to see how sometimes our notions or beliefs can affect our choices and limit or restrict ourselves from such empowerment programs due to misperceptions of group involvement. Everything considered, the two day program at Tezu and Miao went well, with the greatest challenge being that the Tibetans spoke more in their regional language (Pemakoepa, Kongpo and others) and spoke less in Tibetan. People hardly showed any gesture or nods of understanding the concepts that we tried to explain throughout the two day program at respective settlements and this kind of worried us. After discussing our concerns with some of the women, we realised that people who live there are so used to speaking to each other in their regional dialect, that they understand Tibetan but do not respond much in Tibetan language. It was a great relief to know they understood us, along with the lecture, group discussion, passage reading and documentary screening.

We were relieved as we breathed in the fresh clean air of Tenzinghang Tibetan settlement, after travelling for more than 24 hours by jeep, bus and Tatasumo from Miao to Tenzinghang. The camps in the settlement were scattered far off from one another. It was great to see an ample number of people attending the two days program at Tenzinghang. People living there spoke in Tibetan and though they are on the far edge of the India map, they seemed more aware about the upcoming election, their basic duty and their right to vote. The Tibetans shared with us and asked questions about the election process; which we hope we were able to satisfy them with our answers and suggestions of their participation in the process.
At places like Tezu, Miao and Tenzinghang, one common concern that most of the people presented was the amount of illiteracy in the community. Most of the people living there were elderly, as the younger population often choose to live and settle outside the settlements, building their careers and lives. Moreover, these settlements struggle with distance and devoid of information of the happenings in the larger Tibetan community; often presenting concerns of marginalization.

BANDARA and MAINPAT: TWA’s president Dolkar Kirti and Women’s Environment and Development Desk (WEDD) staff Tenzin Woebum, visited the Tibetan settlements in Bandra and Mainpat, in the month of February 2011. It was wonderful to see people there taking initiative in attending the training, by arranging transportation means to get the settlers from the far off camps. The turnout of the people was satisfactory. In addition, there were many well educated people among the participants and their positive feedback strengthened the training. Besides the training on Human Rights and Democracy, a special session on Tibet the Third Pole, a TWA environment campaign group started in 2009, was also organized and well received by the people.

BIR: TWA’s vice president and WEDD staff Tenzin Woebum led two day trainings at Bir Tibetan settlement in the first week of February 2011. Although there was low attendance, TWA chose to look at the positive aspects in that, those who attended were well informed and aware of the concepts like Democracy; therefore, they presented the capability of making informed choices.

HIMACHAL PRADESH, UTTARANCHAL AND UTTARKHAND: Three weeks prior to the March 20 election, four members of TWA visited the Tibetan settlements around Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttaranchal.
TWA’s vice president Samten Chodon and ETAD staff Nyima Lhamo toured Choelsum Poanta Sahib, Puruwala, Herbertpur and Mussorrie. We began with Choelsum Poanta Sahib Tibetan settlement with the training on ‘Democracy’. We are thankful to the Settlement Officer and people of Choelsum Poanta Sahib for allowing us to impart the training. There was active participation from the community. In addition, they had lots to share and ask of TWA trainers; it was a very interactive day. Further, at Puruwala Tibetan settlement, the turnout was also satisfactory, with active participation and lots of sharing with interaction from the masses. The community involvement was good and the trainings went smoothly.
TWA’s Joint Secretary Tenzin Dolma and non-standing executive member Tashi Dolma, toured Dickyiling, Clementown, Rajpur and Haridwar and imparted similar training.

Dickyiling trainings had good attendance and the participants were present and interactive. After listening to the people, we felt they were well informed and aware of the developments in our community. The turnout was also good at Clementown (Dhondupling). The screening of the TWA Productions ‘Exile Tibetans Mass Mock Election and its Findings’, a dvd on the importance of the Kalon Tripa and Chithues, proved to be very helpful to a lot of people at the training. Especially the second dvd ‘Promotion of Democracy and Importance of the Election of Kalon Tripa and Chithues’, was very helpful in clarifying much of the confusion which exist in the minds of our people with regards to the election process. Rajpur had 55 people gathered for the day’s program, with very lively participation from the masses. Many of them thanked TWA for coming to the settlement with such an empowering package and stated that this time they will vote with an informed choice.

Finally the “Happy Valley”, Mussorrie and Haridwar were the two places where TWA ETAD concluded the Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community in Exile (ESD) project. Both places have Tibetan residence scattered over the towns doing business and they do not have a demarcated settlement area. The attendance at Mussaorrie was satisfactory but Haridwar was small; however, we still believe that the trainings proved beneficial and the people in attendance interacted well. Furthermore, they raised substantial questions and shared their ideas and suggestions.

Conclusion

TWA is happy to have reached out to the Tibetans living in Bhutan, Tezu, Miao and Tenzinghang through the empowerment training. TWA remains thankful to our partner and funder KIOS, the Finnish NGO for Human Rights, for supporting us with the much needed financial help and for making one of our dream project a reality.

TWA’s primary goal is to advocate the rights of the Tibetan women inside Tibet and to empower the Tibetan women in exile. The ETAD exists to strengthen and support the aims of TWA by ensuring that programs are accessible and presented with excellence. The ETAD provides a central point of contact of resources for Tibetan women in exile, while effectively coordinating empowerment programs in culturally appropriate and gender sensitive ways. TWA’s ETAD imparts leadership and empowerment actions which include the Advanced Tibetan Women’s Leadership Training, the Annual Young Tibetan Women’s Leadership Program, the All India Gender Sensitization Training and the Annual Tibetan Nuns Leadership Training.

Feedback from the participants:

“I always wished to see TWA have chapters in Bhutan. I hope it’s not too late to start here. It will be a strong move to bridge the gap between the Tibetan women living inside and outside Bhutan. Thank you for coming to Bhutan.” – Dorjee Gyalpo, 55, Settlement Officer, Bhutan

“Some years ago, I had the opportunity to learn tailoring from ‘Stitches of Tibet’- (an undertaking of TWA), and today I am glad to be of any help and support to TWA. I am sure it will be a wonderful platform to learn and share many new things. Thank you for the empowerment trainings.” – Bhuti, 30, Bhutan

“I am sure that we will not be able to be politically active and engaged, looking at the situation in Bhutan, but then I think this is a wonderful platform to educate myself with the information I get from TWA, and in being able to share it with others will surely give rise to stronger bonding amongst us- the fellow Tibetans.” – Tsamchoe, 38, Bhutan

“I have never been to a training filled with so much freshness; be it the mind games, audio visual presentation and the group discussions. Thank you for coming to Shillong.” – Mrs. Nyepak la, former RTWA President, 55, Shillong, Meghalaya

“My name is Tenzin Pelyoun, I had attended the 2-day workshop which you organized in Jhalupara, Shillong and the reason for me to write to you is to convey my sincere thanks in spreading knowledge about the status of Tibetan women and significantly in igniting a sense of responsibility towards our society which seem to be waning away due to our ignorance and our busy lives. I believe our society, especially the one in Shillong are among the Tibetan societies who are so aloof from the mainstream Tibetan society and therefore we are hardly informed of the important changes taking place in our political, social and cultural scenario.”

“As a youth this is the first Tibetan workshop that I attended and I didn’t felt let down. I wish to thank Tibetan Women’s association for taking the time and initiative to be here and have the patience to bear with our low sense of knowledge. I hope to see more of such works being undertaken by your organization in the near future.” – Tenzin Pelyoun, BSW (Bachelor of Social Work) 2nd yr student, Shillong, Meghalaya.

“People living in and around Dharamsala are often overwhelmed with opportunities and information but it is in these regions like Tezu that people are marginalized and left on the edge. I thank TWA for coming to Tezu and I hope our women will make good use of what they learned from your educative program.” – Settlement officer, Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh

“We are all very happy that you (TWA) came to Tezu and we thank you for that. We request you to come back for a longer period of time, what you shared with us in these two days are very helpful to us. Please come back in future and thank you very much” – Karma, 20, resident of Tezu, Arunachal Pradesh

“Thank you very much TWA for having thought of Miao settlement, thank you for the two days training. I request you to come back every year if possible.” Tenzin Dolma, Miao, Arunachal Pradesh

“Tibetan women’s Association of Tenzinghang would like to thank the central TWA on behalf of all the Tibetans living in our settlement for the valuable training program on Democracy and Gender. We look forward to other similar programs from TWA in the near future.” – Dawa Dolma, 29,Tenzinghang, Arunachal Pradesh

“This training is like giving a walking stick to a blind person” – Mr. Urgen Tenzin, Mainpat, Madya Pradesh

“This is my first workshop and it is very helpful” – Yeshi Choedon, a retired nun in Bandara, Maharashtra

“This workshop conducted by TWA is very helpful but I would like to see youths attending such workshop as it is now high time that our 3rd generation of Tibetans start taking some responsibility”- Choekyap, Bir Tibetan society, Himachal Pradesh.
“I am very proud that TWA is going extra mile to create awareness among Tibetan populace about democracy and how to fill up the form for upcoming election and I am confident that I will make no mistakes this time during the election”- Sangay Sangmo, Bir Tibetan society, Himachal Pradesh

“Being a teacher I have attended many workshops but this one is different. The sessions are very interactive and there is a lot to learn even from the mind-games” – Tashi Dolma, Mussoorie, Uttarkhand

“Thank you TWA for coming to educate and empower the people of my settlement right around the election time.” – Sonam Tsering, Poanta Sahib, Himachal Pradesh

“Very often people limit their choices to the list of candidates listed by the Choelkhas (provinces), this is where we go wrong. We should look beyond it. The government in exile is elected by the people and thus the duty of the government to look after its people.” – Tsultrim Gyatso, 75, Puruwala, Himachal Pradesh

“It is important to encourage the Tibetan women to stand for Chithue or Kalon Tripa’s post. I hope our people will make good use of the things we learned and shared here today.” – Thupten, 69, Herbertpur, Uttaranchal

“I have attended several workshops but this workshop is different and involves lots of interaction and mind- games” – Nyima Dorjee, Deckyiling, Uttarkhand

“Firstly I thank TWA for sending you both here. I feel grateful to have joined this training and thank you for letting us know about Democracy and specially the right to vote and importance of making one’s own choices. A project like this implemented yearly would be wonderful to make our women more brave and to remind them of their rights” – Karma Chodon, 26, Rajpur, Uttarkhand

“We are impressed by the executive members of TWA who imparted empowerment trainings to the residents of our settlement. Consequently, the classes were fruitful and rendered good impact to the entire public who benefited from such wonderful learnings. We appreciate you and congratulate you for that. Thank you.” – the residents of the Dhondupling Tibetan Colony in Clementown, Uttarkhand

“TWA has empowered us about democracy in exile and of the upcoming election of the Kalon Tripa and the members of the Tibetan Parliament. The members of TWA Dharamsala have encouraged us with information and let us know how to participate and elect our leader. We are very thankful to you for showing us the path and for opening our eyes. We will definitely follow your valuable guidance. So, please if you get time then please come and educate, train and empower us again and again.” – the residents of the Tsering Dhonden Tibetan Colony, Uttarkhand.

Also view the photographs on Flickr.

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community

Enhancing and Sustaining Democracy in the Tibetan community