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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Their Tibet, Our Tibet

November 24, 2008

Times of India
November 23, 2008

They say the chief executive of Brand Tibet can't do without his
Guccis. And they wonder why the Dalai Lama is always rubbing
shoulders with Hollywood A-listers, such as Richard Gere, Brad Pitt and Bjork.

Critics mock the 'Free Tibet' movement as a Western celebrity circus
that has lasted 75 years too long. It all began in 1933 with James
Hilton's Lost Horizon, a fascinating story of a mythical
'Shangri-La', land of eternal bliss, which was to be immortalized in
a Frank Capra film. Later, there would be images of Pitt walking
across long, silent valleys in the panoramic Seven Years in Tibet.
And there would be Icelandic singer Bjork saying the T-word at a
Beijing concert. But Tibet is not only a Hollywood cause.

The world hardly ever gets to see or hear about the Sydney scholar
who spent years in a damp monastery to learn Tibetan and copy
Buddhist sutras; the Connecticut nurse who gave up her job to work
with Tibetan orphans in a tiny Himalayan hamlet and the Bristol
software engineer who decided he would rather teach basic computer
skills to Tibetan former political prisoners than earn a comfortable
living in Britain. There is also the Montana man who spent all he had
to fly down to India and walk in solidarity with Tibetan monks as
they protested against the Olympic torch on its passage through the capital.

He might have noticed few Indians there. When the torch arrived in
Delhi and the police turned its main route into a fortress, ordinary
Indians simply stayed away. Tibet is not a cause for most Indians
even though the Dalai Lama has lived here 50 years. For many of us,
it's either a "lost cause" that attracts Hollywood groupies and
hippies or a "nuisance" that could ruin relations with China. In
this, the average Indian is simply taking his cue from his
government, which remains transfixed by the traumatic memory of 1962.
Martin Scorsese shot his film on the Dalai Lama's early life, Kundun,
in Morocco and Pitt made Seven Years in Peru because the Indian
government refused permission to shoot here. Some say it was a PR
blunder. How then can we blame Hollywood for hijacking Tibet?

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