By the Editorial Board of The Tibetan Political Review
The new administration under Kalon Tripa-elect Lobsang Sangay is beginning to take shape. In an encouraging move, Kalsang “Kaydor” Aukatsang announced on July 4 that he is taking up a new position in Dharamsala, and therefore must resign as president of the Tibetan Association of Northern California (TANC). According to a message he sent to the TANC mailing list:
This is exactly the sort of attitude of engagement that the new Tibetan administration needs from the Tibetan people. In a time of challenge and transition, all Tibetans must remember President Kennedy’s call to service: “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
We on the TPR editorial board are especially pleased to see the creation of Tibet Corps, because it mirrors an idea in this journal in December 2010. Last year, we wrote of another Kalon Tripa candidate’s proposal for a “‘program’ for Tibetans with skills or education in the West to come to Dharamsala to offer their service to the government.” We concluded that “[s]uch an idea for a ‘Reverse Peace Corps’ has been made before in Tibetan society, but just as President John F. Kennedy turned a vague idea into the original Peace Corps, Tibetan society needs an active leader for a ‘Reverse Peace Corps’ to become a reality.”
Amid this optimism, we also believe that the Tibet Corps can learn one lesson of caution from the Peace Corps. While the Peace Corps celebrates 50 years of making a positive difference, it has sometimes been accused of pushing aside local knowledge or capacity. Likewise, the leadership in Dharamsala must balance the need to bring in new skills and perspectives, with the need to value the existing institutional knowledge and dedication of Dharamsala’s public servants. Most people will admit that the Tibetan administration calls out for reform, but if reform is to succeed, it must be carried out in a way that wins the loyalty and respect of the bureaucracy.
We continue to believe that a “Reverse Peace Corps” or Tibet Corps is an excellent idea, and we wish it much success under the leadership of Lobsang Sangay and Kaydor Aukatsang. We strongly encourage Tibetans worldwide to consider participation.