VISION 2030 FOR GLOBAL TIBETAN PROFESSIONALS
Y S Rajan
(to be delivered at First Global Tibetan Professional Summit on 5-6 September 2010 at Dharmashala)
Your Excellency Prime Minister Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, you are an erudite scholar as well, Your Excellency Kalon Tempa Tsering, Madam Youdon Ankatsang, Executive Director, Envision and other eminent participants
It is indeed a great honour for me to participate in this First Summit and deliver a talk in the presence of holy and enlightened persons and also addressing a wonderful community of Tibetan professionals spread around different parts of the world.
When many critical events took place in Tibet, I was a teenager. I used to get some filtered information in the Bombay newspapers. In the geography books, Pamir plateau used to be highlighted. Later when I grew up, I learnt a lot more about Tibet and its people. But still I am aware that my knowledge is extremely limited.
While noting the rich historical traditions of Tibet and the current existential realities which are continuing for over five decades, it is a daunting task to envision some broad contours of a future for those persons whose roots are traced to Tibet but who live in different parts of the world. Most of the young and middle aged professionals would not have visited the land of their roots. Imageries of Tibet and its traditions are available to them only through written and spoken words and occasional audio visual materials brought out of Tibet by foreigners.
A question as to whether they will be able to visit the lands of their roots and as to how they will feel then, is one of most difficult one to answer. One can only paint scenarios which can range from cold analysis with lots of pessimism or cynicism on one extreme to various possibilities in the middle range with many ifs and buts, to fictions of optimistic imaginations. Attempts in that direction itself can be a part of the knowledge and creative industry in which the Global Tibetan professionals (GTP) could be profitably engaged in, if done in moderation.
AN APPROACH TO UNDERSTAND FUTURE
My inability to create such scenarios can easily be understood. Therefore I attempt to address a future for the Global Tibetan Professionals (GTP) with the following factors in mind:-
a)THE COLLECTIVE: The Global Tibetan Professional Community (GTPC) will continue to exist for several more decades with its own distinct identity, though they are spread around the world. Modern information and Communication Technologies (ICT) would help in a great way to have near daily contacts between them, thus strengthening the intracommunity bonds.. Also Tibetans are well known all over the world and welcome in most parts of the world especially due to the compassionate message spread by H.H. Dalai Lama. There could be some small intermingling of other peoples in this community due to inter-marriage or adoption. More importantly there would be some syncretic adaptation with local communities. Therefore all the persons of the GTPC will not be in one single mould. There will be a rich texture of global realities and global opportunities in their daily lives. But the fact of keeping the community identity through several forums such as this summit as well as the use of modern fast transportation systems, will also preserve many parts of the rich heritage of Tibet. One should bear in mind that this rich and hoary heritage is the real GLOBAL BRAND OF TIBET, symbolized of H.H. Dalai Lama and other venerable Tibetan monks. One of the beneficial action, therefore, of GTPC should be to capture this heritage and display it in various parts of the world they live in.
Wherever they live in or whatever profession they are engaged in, all those who belong to GTPC should have some quality time allotted to this task â€“ that is to keep up the community brand with adequate empathy with other peoples of the world. It is a universal message from a particular community.
b)THE INDIVIDUALS: Even while the community identity is an important and strong factor for GTPC, being professionals living in different countries, there is also an equally strong force of individual choices. Some may like to be engineers, some may want to be medical doctors or researchers or bankers or financiers, lawyers or some media persons or some architects or some artists or some in business management. The GTP network website lists a whole set of them. It is natural and understandable. Such individual aspirations will, to a large extent, have to be realized within the framework of opportunities available in the countries they live in.
This reality makes it difficult to project a generalized broad brush vision for the future of GTPCâ€™s activities. When countries like Japan, Korea, Malaysia or Singapore project their vision for a future, or when we did the major national wide exercise Technology Vision for India 2020 through the organisation called Technology Information, Forecasting and assessment Council (TIFAC), assumptions can be made about some normative goals and develop the vision around it. For example, rate of growth GDP can be assumed to around a band of rate of growth either desired or projected; some assumptions can be made about per capita food requirements etc., Since the GTPC does not live within a specific geographic area broadly under its control, it is difficult to make such normative assumptions.
An ideal method would be to capture the aspirations of and opportunities for the GTPC individuals living in different clusters in the world. Then try to find in them the interconnections and common features. That could be a common vision. On that can be superposed various new emerging global opportunities due to new technologies, businesses, and educational systems. Some interactive studies can result in a Vision 2020 or 2030 that can be adopted by members of GTPC and for Tibetan Diaspora as a whole.
SOME SPECIFIC POSSIBLE VISION 2020/2030 TASKS FOR GTPC
Vision is not a corporate plan; not should it be a Government Document. It should be a challenging for the best of minds and yet inclusively realistic to attract the average. In the following, I have attempted to outline eight mega tasks which collectively form a vision for the GTPâ€™s.
In the interim, I would suggest the following possibilities of technologies, business and other socio-cultural impacts of global developments on the lives of GTPC and how GTPC can use them to the optimal interest of GTPC and other persons from Tibetan Diaspora. While doing do I have made an intuitive integration of the two elements, the COLLECTIVE of the GTPC and the INDIVIDUALS of the GTPC with the third element, namely, the newly emerging global opportunities in different parts of the world. These are not exhaustive lists but have been filtered judiciously through the integrative process referred to above. I believe this listing will be useful in undertaking the major VISION 2020/2030 of GTPC suggested earlier.
1.CREATIVE INDUSTRIES BASED ON TIBET BRAND:
Under this category I list various forms of literature, multimedia, cinema, music, art, dances, holistic well being life style practices, etc., While computers, audio engineering, visual arts, imaging technologies etc., will be utilized in this field, all these efforts should draw upon the rich Tibetan heritage of the past as well as its manifestation during the recent times through H.H. Dalai Lama and other venerable monks and teachers who have made their mark in the world during the past 50 years. Successful integration of these elements into the local cultures of the places in which GTPâ€™s live can be the foundation of a thriving service industry. It is not necessary that these industries, enterprises or academic studies or other efforts have to be exclusively done with GT professionals or persons who trace their roots to Tibet. They should however be the lead persons in terms of original creators or promoters or those who are CEOâ€™s/COOâ€™s/CTOâ€™s etc.,
As distinct from technological research and development, some of the GTPâ€™s may focus on fundamental and basic research in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, astronomy, evolutionary biology, astrophysics, archaeology, earth sciences, neuro sciences etc., Well, one may ask a question as to what is something special about such areas for GTPâ€™s? In the whole world so many millions of persons pursue these areas and what is special which a small miniscule community of GTPâ€™s can make some thing different or unique
I think that in addition to the usual rigorous processes of researches in these areas which are common to all, it is possible for GTP persons to make a special mark. I would strongly recommend that all of you read a book by Susantha Goonatilake â€œTowards a Global Science: Mining Civilisational Knowledgeâ€ by Vistaar Publications, New Delhi, 1999. What I used to experientially feel during my career in science and technology in multicultural settings, he has given a great academic and scholastic foundation. I consider it as a book of the 21st Century. The great civilizational knowledge of Tibet and the way in which you are all culturally conditioned by that heritage, will open up new avenues for modern science. It is akin to what a great Indian mathematician Ramanujam did to mathematics. Even other South Asian scientists subconsciously would have been conditioned. So I feel that Tibetan culture and heritage may bring something very different in the scientific researches you may pursue. You have to periodically assemble and discuss about such an influence without being ashamed of it or afraid of.
Even while you follow the narrow confines for the rigor of (Western) modern scientific methods, allow the intuition derived from your heritage to play a role. I would think a few new Nobel Laureates will emerge from the GTPC, as the world today is ready to look at broader perspectives of life and accept diverse origins.
In order to be effective at a world level, the GT professionals working for such scientific research areas, may like to create a network within themselves. Try to restrict the pull of individuality to some extent in order to create a minimum critical size of GTP scientists in a particular domain/area/problem of research. That will create clusters of GTP presence. Again, this need not be restricted to the exclusive cluster of GTP persons alone. It may have others from the countries you work in. It will also help newer ideas and help in citation indices, which are now important for scientific research papers.
If pursued carefully and vigorously by about 2025/2030 impact of GTPâ€™s on some select areas of science may become visible worldwide. What topics/areas, you will choose, I hope, you will select post-this conference through a series of interactions.
3.MEDICAL RESEARCH AND APPLICATIONS:
Tibetan system of medicine has emerged as one of the alternate medical system, popular with many persons outside those who have their origins in Tibet. GTPâ€™s can go well beyond that by researching further using some of modern bio-medical methods. New science can be brought to the global forums especially through developed countries in which GT professionals live. Creating large chains of Medicare systems, pharma industries, industries of dietary supplements, assistive devices for exercises, etc., may turn out to be a challenging enterprise. One may target a few billions of turn over in dollars within about a decade say by 2020.
Interesting creative industries supplementing audio/visuals, multimedia etc., for meditation and other such unique Tibetan practices aimed at better physical and mental health, may also become a challenging enterprise. They could also provide considerable intellectual challenges to GTPâ€™s.
Brain research and broadly speaking neuroscience researches could be another branch of medical enterprise which hold special promise for the future. If GT professionals get into these research fields with some background of Tibetan spiritual and mystic practices, it is likely that by 2020/2030 many new neuro science research findings may emerge, probably revolutionizing the present concepts of cognition, consciousness, evolution etc.,
If a minimum critical clusters of GT professionals concentrate on select items from the above areas along with partners from the regions in which they live, and yet keep the GTP network alive and active on the lines suggested earlier, Tibetan contributions to modern medical/neuroscience areas can become impact making by 2025/2030.
4. SYSTEMATIC SCIENTIFIC CAPTURE OF TIBETAN TRADITONAL KNOWELDGE:
Let us now consider another important area of scientific activity. Unlike in the past century, there are now many persons in the developed world (both rich persons as well as intellectual elites) who are ready to accept the possibility of having treasures of knowledge in the wisdom of old persons and old civilizations. Capturing of traditional knowledge bases has not only become a good (acceptable) academic pursuit but is also seen to be having good commercial potentials.
This task is unlike the Vision 2020/2030 task (1) listed above which was to build TIBETAN BRAND and generate creative industries around it. Tasks under (1) may not all be scientifically rigorous or fully factually correct, as they are meant to be a commercial or infotainment enterprise building on brands, myths and icons. The set of tasks meant under this heading (4) are meant to be scientifically rigorous and academically challenging. As such one may have to seek research grants from philanthropists and industries who see a long term stakes. The studies have to be academically and scientifically rigorous while deriving information from ageing persons of Tibetan Diaspora. The approach should be that of using a â€œVaccuum Cleanerâ€. That is, suck in whatever is available using audio, visual and multimedia. If there are physical artifacts or manuscripts available, capture them too. It is not necessary that all that is talked by the old persons (men and women) and also others in different age groups who are ready to talk, have to be scientifically correct or academically rigorous. The researchers should be able to capture as much as possible from them and sieve out later. It is quite possible that industries/ business houses which support these efforts may like to have exclusive Intellectual Property Rights (IPRâ€™s) on some of them. Well, one has to adapt to the forces of modern market economics and capture as much as possible the knowledge of persons before they disappear from our midst. It is a great challenge for GTPâ€™s in terms of organizing such an effort, getting funding and get going fast.
5. VIRTUAL REALITY AROUND TIBET, TIBETAN RITUALS AND TIBETAN LIFE:
Though this can be considered also as a subject of the creative industries using Tibetan Brand that is Vision 2020/2030 Task (1) I am placing it in a specific form which can make a great adventure, great business and a great integration of science, technology, arts, music, geography etc., (a truly multidisciplinary mix)
Modern satellite based remote sensing nowadays not only provides very high resolution pictures but also gives information on undulations of the terrain (like Cartosat data from Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)). These data can be integrated with variety of other Geographical Information Systems (GIS). These integrated packages can have other sets of imageries â€“ still pictures, video pictures taken in Tibet and nearby areas as well as inside the holy places, market places etc., superimposed on them. The modern computer simulation methods of Virtual Reality can be used to develop a whole series of packages which can make the â€œviewerâ€ go through various parts of Tibet in the virtual world. Audio commentaries can give descriptions. Chanting during particular rituals or functions can make the â€œviewerâ€ to be a participant. Those who are specialists in virtual reality will understand these processes.
Such packages can help to recapture the vivid imageries of Tibet for those who have their roots traced to those places but cannot visit personally. Also it can be a great attraction for those who are interested in Tibet.
Even if some day in the future, it becomes easier to visit Tibet, these virtual reality packages can become a training ground for adventurous tourists and even serious researchers and scholars.
Those who do these virtual reality packages on Tibet may add Kailash, Mana Sarovar, Sikkim monastries etc., as an add on to increase the market for these packages.
If a project is started now, within about 5 years one can have excellent series of â€œVirtual realityâ€ packages of Tibet becoming a major business.
Later the same set of developers and entrepreneurs can do it for other parts of the world, like Alps, Artic, Antarctic etc.,
Raising of funds for data collection, R&D and marketing is not an easy task. Can GTPâ€™s take it as a challenge and bank on the good will created so far to raise funds? Or make it a part of a big business group, who will then profit from it.
6.BIG SCIENCE PROJECTS:
So far I had dealt with items in which groups of a few or several individuals can join and create a research group or R&D or a business. They are not necessarily small items after they are completed and later scaled up into major businesses or a scholastic or research endeavor or a service industry. But initial start can be done with fractions of or a few or several tens of millions of dollars and further investments can be attracted after successful demonstrations.
But some of GTPâ€™s may at an individual or group level may like to have much bigger challenges, such as space travel, building up new fusion power plant or a major project in defence or security. But these projects are huge, requiring several billions of dollars. Moreover such â€œbig scienceâ€ projects are still largely dependent on governments. Even private sector efforts depend on government purchase of goods and services. Therefore I am not including them as a possibility, though I mention it as an item for the sake of completeness.
So to a question as to the possibility of one of the Global Tibetan being in space for a long duration, the answer is difficult. While one cannot rule it out, one cannot visualize it as a tangible vision of GTPâ€™s.
It is quiet possible that some of the GTPâ€™s may participate in scientific researches like astronomy, planetary sciences, solar system studies etc., and also in plasma physics concerning fusion power.â€™â€™ Perhaps we may have to leave these to individual choices and contextual opportunities which may exist for some persons living in some countries.
7.OTHER AREAS OF ARTS, MUSIC ETC.,:
Except for pointing out such possibilities I am not again emphasizing or highlighting the following possibilities.
- Can a new music band arise out GTPâ€™s causing ripples in the world as rock bands did at some stage of history?
- Can a new wave of movies being directed/produced by some persons or groups of GTPâ€™s?
- What about GTPâ€™s creating a new wave in painting, dance forms etc.,?
One of the main reasons why I do not expand on these is because of my limited knowledge in these areas. Some others may consider these possibilities and create a vision 2020/2030 task, as I have illustrated for other areas.
Other similar areas needing exploration for ruling out or accepting will be:
- Can there be a new financial network of institutions created by GTPâ€™s which can impact world financial systems?
- Can there be a new architectural school emerging out of GTPâ€™s even over a period two decades or more?
I am mentioning some of these for the sake of completeness and also for others to give some thought to these items before ruling them out as possible direction for GTPâ€™s or creating Vision 2030 tasks.
8.TIBETAN LANGUAGE :
Another vital task for GTPâ€™s would be to preserve Tibetan language (I mean along with its script) itself from disappearance over a period of a few decades or more. At the same time, there is also a need to enable it to evolve for meeting the challenges of the modern world by introducing new vocabulary and also by making massive presence in the cyber world.
In addition, lots of e-enabled â€œlearn by yourselves Tibetanâ€ modules may have to be authentically introduced. GTPâ€™s can play a large role in this matter. It is the very basis of maintaining an exclusive identity of a GTPâ€™s or even GT (Global Tibetans),
NEXT SIXTY YEARS:
The above given suggestions are specific for GTPâ€™s taking into account various possibilities, potentials as well as possible constraints. Some of you may be interested in a broad brush vision of the future. I had given on 12th October 2007 a convocation address at the Bharatidasan University, Thiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu ( India). It was for graduating students who were around 21-22 years of age then. I felt it is good for them to know what next sixty years are going to be and what actions are needed to be taken by them now!
Good part of it is India-centric as I know India better than I know other countries. But some of the general trends are derived from what is likely to be world over. Good one year before the global melt down I have envisioned that India for about next 15 years (i.e. say 2012-2013 and may be 2015) is likely to have a cataclysmic fast growth. Globally such a cataclysm is likely to be around. Some countries like India may be growing and some developed countries shrinking rapidly; their cozy assumptions about standards of living and welfare standards are likely to have severe beatings.
Such situations pose special challenges for GTPâ€™s. But their heritage of hardiness and H.H. Dalai Lamaâ€™s message of moderation may help them to win over many difficult situations.
I am not elaborating upon further details. I feel it will be good if GTPâ€™s read that address and draw their own versions of next sixty years. Many of you are still young to dream for sixty years.
The cited address can be seen in my website www.ysrajan.com under the section Articles; it is titled â€œNext Sixty Years: Actions Nowâ€.
We have covered so far, a wide range of possibilities to identify Vision 2020/2030 mega tasks for the future for GTPâ€™s. There are many challenges embedded in them. Not knowing the exact distribution of GTPâ€™s, in various countries, their interests, resources etc., many of these possibilities do not have a reality check.
I would therefore suggest that GTPâ€™s consider a number of ideas put forth in my talk, and internally debate about the applicability or otherwise of the ideas in the actual GTP context and their aspirations. If some of the ideas look promising, serious study groups or working groups could be constituted to analyze various scenarios and options. While committees may operate at an apex level to finalise and decide on the paths for action, at the time of capturing various scenarios and options, it will be better to get inputs from a large cross sections of people even if they were not professionals. It may also be useful to capture the views of others who are not of Tibetan origin but are engaged with GTPâ€™s in different parts of the world; that will help understanding the perceptions of others.
Modern methods of scenario writing, response to questionnaires, brain storming, select interviews, nominal group techniques etc., will be useful in such processes. Depending on the resources, this exercise can be big or medium sized. The findings from such studies can help to arrive at a road map for the future options of GTPâ€™s. Perhaps this exercise can be conducted in about 6 months. Potential funders can be approached thereafter for follow up actions.
I have gone through the whole process of national exercise for Vision 2020 for 2 years. It is a great fun. You will all enjoy it more because of modern fast ICTâ€™s and inexpensive and speedy transport. If GTPâ€™s have an event a year from now, then this road map could be declared as Vision 2025/2030 ROADMAP for Global Tibetans. A brief write up for large scale (popular) dissemination will be useful as a public information material. In addition, detailed reports are required for specific follow up actions.
I hope I have been able to do some justice to the faith you have reposed on me through your invitation to this august gathering. I would join in the prayers for a bright future for all of you who are here and other Tibetans who are not present here.
Thank you all
Y.S. Rajan is Dr. Vikram Sarabhai Distinguished Professor, ISRO, Bangalore. Views are personal. Visit website www.ysrajan.com