Chinese dragon upsets Tibetans again

Times of India logo 09 March 2005,curpg-1.cms

Published in:
Times News Network

by Man Mohan

Mcleod Ganj: The Chinese dragon has upset the Tibetans once again.

Miss China and Tashi Yangchen going out for a safari tour

Miss China and Tashi Yangchen going out for a safari tour
( Print size photo [390K])

Dalai Lama, who was supposed to inaugurate the warm up match between India and Pakistan, decided against it when Pakistan expressed its reservations.

Pakistan objected to his presence during the match as Islamabad did not want to jeopardise its ties with Beijing, a key trading partner and major defence supplier.

"It is clear Beijing was behind this too," said Choekyong Wangchuk, India-Tibet Coordination Office spokesman.

But the petty international politics has raised its ugly head even at the beauty pageant "meant for peace and harmony," says Tashi Yangchen (24), Miss Tibet 2004, now working with Gangtok's I-T department as a computer engineer.

"After all, Yangchen was the most beautiful girl from the roof of the world," said Lobsang Wangyal, a "Free Tibet" activist who has been organising Miss Tibet contest here annually in October since 2002.

Tashi Yangchen in crown and evening gown On International Women's Day (March 8), women wore black bands to express their anger against their traditional enemy's recent pressure tactics which led to Miss Tibet 2004 Tashi Yangchen's expulsion from the Miss World Tourism 2005 beauty pageant's finals in Harare on February 26.

"It is unfortunate that politics dictates events of young women and their aspirations," said Ngawang Samdup, spokesperson of the Miss Tibet pageant.

Yangchen said the pageant enabled her to build bonds with girls from across the world, including China. "I even went for a safari tour with the Chinese girl, we clicked well. When I was told by the London-based organisers' president John Singh that the Chinese were forcing him to let Miss Tibet be out of the pageant, I was shocked. But I acted cool and told him I have not come there to create political propaganda," she said.

Meanwhile, encouraged by the success of Miss Tibet beauty contest, organisers are planning to hold similar events in other parts of the world also, especially in Europe and the US, in the near future.

Any unmarried Tibetan women from anywhere, aged 18-26, minimum 165 cms tall, can participate. But they have to bring their own clothing and costumes.

The contest has generated keen interest among Tibetan girls in India, Nepal and Bhutan. Some girls crossed over from Tibet also to take part in the previous contests.

Though some prominent Tibetans have criticised the pageant, Wangyal said, "It is more a platform for women to rise up and tell what women are all about." Yangchen said, "I think Miss Tibet pageant is a harmless yet very effective medium to tell the world that Tibet does exist and Tibetans are very much into a fight for human rights and a Free Tibet."

Tashi Yangchen playing with a lion cub during a safari

Tashi Yangchen playing with a lion cub during a safari
( Print size photo [404K])

"There is a tendency among both Tibetans and the international community to assume that young Tibetan women must only be engaged in activities that are based in the traditional culture or working for the Tibetan cause," said Wangyal commenting that "this is a short-sighted view as Tibetan women are like women everywhere."

"Most people the world over see Tibetans only as those who are in struggle against the Chinese, as a culture that is predominantly made up of the Buddhist monks and nuns, as nomads who herd yaks, or as people who are on pilgrimages to sacred sites or as people who live in caves in the mountains of Tibet," said Yangchen.

"For Tibetan women," she quipped, "I am their inspiration now."

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